Ask Mr. Wizard

ID’ing wild hops


Tony Jones asks,

Last spring a previous owner of our house asked me if I had seen the hops growing unabated all over the place. He said that our house used to be the local gin factory and brewery during prohibition. Last fall, my friends (two other homebrewers) and I sent about one pound of these hops straight into the brewpot. We came up with a pretty mild brown ale.

I read your article from October 2000 and it explained the mildness of the beer and answered my questions about how much hops to add and when, but my big question remains: How do I find out what kind of hops these are and get the particulars about them? They’ve likely been growing here for about 75 years. Can you help or give any more hints about using fresh hops?

Hop variety identification can be done the old-fashioned way of comparing pictures of hop cones of known varieties to the unknown. Although this method is not perfect, it is widely used as
Response by Ashton Lewis.