How to Grow Hops for Brewing Beer

Four Methods:Getting Ready to Grow HopsPlanting and Caring for the HopsHarvesting and Drying the HopsCaring for the Plants After Harvesting

Are you a home brewer hoping to take your beer to the next level by growing your own hops? Hops, one of the basic ingredients in beer, are able to thrive in any moderate climate. Learn how to plant, care for and harvest your own hops so you can enjoy the satisfaction of creating truly homemade beer.

Method 1
Getting Ready to Grow Hops

  1. Image titled Grow Hops for Brewing Beer Step 1
    Buy hop rhizomes. Hop plants are grown from hop rhizomes, pieces of a hop plant that sprout into a new plant. Rhizomes are available early in the spring, when hop farmers dig them up and sell them to suppliers. Order rhizomes online or check with your local nursery. Plan to plant them in late spring, after the last frost.
    • Conduct research to decide what variety of rhizomes to buy. Hops affect the flavor of beer. Do you plan to brew a light, citrusy beer, or perhaps one that's woodsy or floral? Choose a variety that fits with the type of beer you want to create.
    • When your hops arrive, wrap them in damp paper towels and store them in the refrigerator to keep them from drying out until you're ready to plant them.
  2. Image titled Grow Hops for Brewing Beer Step 2
    Choose a place to plant the hops. Scout out an area in your yard that gets at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight every day. In addition to needing a lot of sun, hops require the following conditions to thrive:
    • Plenty of vertical space. Hops grow on vines that stretch 25 feet (7.6 m) or longer into the air. You can choose a planting spot near your house, so you'll be able to lean a tall trellis against the roof. If you'd rather not use your roof to prop up the bines, the trellis can instead be propped against a sturdy pole or another structure close to the garden.
    • Well-drained soil. Choose a spot that has good drainage; if you often see water standing over an area after a heavy rain, that means the soil there doesn't drain well.
  3. Image titled Grow Hops for Brewing Beer Step 3
    Get the planting bed ready. Measure out the area where you want to plant the hops, and use a garden rake and hoe or a soil tiller to break up the soil. It should be loose, with no large clumps or dense spots. Remove stones and sticks from the area and pull out any weeds by the root.
    • Fertilize the soil by raking in some manure, bone meal, blood meal or compost tea. These help plants grow healthy and strong by enriching soil with nutrients it lacks.
    • Make sure the soil is loose and fertilized to a depth of at least one foot.

Method 2
Planting and Caring for the Hops

  1. Image titled Grow Hops for Brewing Beer Step 4
    Mound the soil. Create one mound for each rhizome you will be planting. The mounds should be spaced about 3 feet (0.9 m) apart, so the hops have plenty of room to grow.
  2. Image titled Grow Hops for Brewing Beer Step 5
    Plant the hops. Dig a 4-inch hole in each mound. Plant the rhizomes horizontally, with the root side down. Mound soil over the rhizomes and loosely pack it down, then cover with straw or a light mulch to inhibit weed growth. Keep the soil consistently moist until the hops begin to sprout.
  3. Image titled Grow Hops for Brewing Beer Step 6
    Train the bines. When the hops emerge and grow about 6 inches (15.2 cm), they need to be "trained" around the trellis you are using to help them grow vertically. Place the trellis near the plants and gently wrap them around its base.
    • Continue training the hops for a few days. After awhile, they'll begin growing clockwise around the trellis on their own.
    • If some of the shoots that sprout look damaged or weak, remove them, rather than allowing them to take up space on the trellis. Each rhizome should produce between 4 and 6 healthy vines.
  4. Image titled Grow Hops for Brewing Beer Step 7
    Trim the bines. After a few months of growth, trim the leaves off the bottom 4 feet (1.2 m) of the bines. This prevents the plants from getting damaged by diseases or fungus that may be present in the soil.
  5. Image titled Grow Hops for Brewing Beer Step 8
    Care for the plants. As the bines begin to grow tall and strong, keep the soil around them weeded. Water the hops every day so that the soil stays moist, but not drenched. Continue caring for the hops in this way until late summer, when it's time to harvest them.

Method 3
Harvesting and Drying the Hops

  1. Image titled Grow Hops for Brewing Beer Step 9
    Examine the cones. In the late summer, when it's time to harvest the hops, examine the cones on the bines to see if they are mature. Hope cones are ripe when they're dry and papery, aromatic, springy, and filled with yellow lupulin powder. Test one by cracking it open to see if it is ripe.
    • Hop cones that are heavy and green aren't ready yet. Be patient; your hops might not ripen until early fall.
    • Don't leave cones on the vine until they turn brown.
  2. Image titled Grow Hops for Brewing Beer Step 10
    Pick the ripe hop cones. Gently twist off the ripe hop cones as they ripen. Some will ripen more quickly than others, so leave the ones that still need time.
    • You can use a ladder to pick the hop cones that are out of reach.
    • If it seems that all the hops are ripening at once, and you prefer not to use a ladder, cut the bines at their bases. Lay them flat and pull off the cones.
  3. Image titled Grow Hops for Brewing Beer Step 11
    Dry the hops. Place ripe hops on a flat surface away from sunlight. Make sure they are only a single layer deep. Turn on a fan and let it blow over the hops for a few hours. Flip them over and continue drying them on the other side. Continue drying and flipping the hops until there is no moisture left on their surface.
    • You may also store your hops in a paper bag in a cool, dark and dry place to let them dry out over the course of a few weeks.
    • Check home-brewing websites for hop-drying kits that make the process faster.
  4. Image titled Grow Hops for Brewing Beer Step 12
    Store the hops. Hops should be stored in airtight food storage bags in the refrigerator. If you won't be using them for awhile, you can freeze them.

Method 4
Caring for the Plants After Harvesting

  1. Image titled Grow Hops for Brewing Beer Step 13
    Cut back the bines. When the harvest is over, cut them back to about 3 feet (0.9 m). The first frost will kill them, after which you can trim them back further and cover them with a tarp or other protective cover for the rest of the winter.
  2. Image titled Grow Hops for Brewing Beer Step 14
    Revive the hop plants in spring. Use a shovel to uncover the rhizomes and trim back the roots on each one. Fertilize the soil around them and mound it loosely into 1-foot hills. Add a layer of mulch and moisten the soil with water until the hop plants sprout once more.


  • If you're planting more than one variety of hops, plant them about 5 feet (1.5 m) apart from one another. Like varieties can be planted closer together.

Article Info

Categories: Growing Herbs and Spices