The hop plant (Humulus lupulus) is a rough twining vine with separate male and female plants. The male plant has a finely branched inflorescence whilst the female plant bears flowers in the form of cones - the parts of the plant that are used in brewing. The mature hop cones are generally between 2 cm and 8 cm long, yellowish green, and papery to the touch. The cones are harvested and dried in August and September - vigorous varieties will produce as much as 1 Kg of dried flowers per plant. The dried hop cones are used in brewing for bittering, flavour and aroma and preservation. Hop varieties get their properties or active principles from small yellowish glands at the base of the cone petals within the bracts or scales. The gland is covered by a waxy skin within which lies all of the unique bittering (alpha acids) and aromatic (oil) compounds. These glands are referred to as Lupulin. The quality of hops depends largely on the amount of lupulin they contain and when derived from the fresh hop flowers it is more abundant and of better quality. The alpha acid level determines the bitterness of a particular hop variety and the higher the percentage alpha acid by weight the more bitter the hop in direct proportion.  >Availablity List Here<  To order hop rhizomes for delivery outside Europe please contact us for details.

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These excellent paperback reprints of Hop Cultivation by Charles Whitehead, The Hop and its Constituents and George Clinch's classic English Hops are now available from Wellowgate Publications

Hops are hardy, perennial plants which produces annual vines from a permanent root stock or crown. Vines may grow up to 25 feet in a single season but will die back to the crown each autumn. In addition to the true roots and the vine, the crown also produces underground stems called rhizomes which possess numerous buds and are used for vegetative propagation. Hops prefer deep, well drained soil as they put down a very strong underground root structure - the true roots can penetrate to a depth of more than 4 metres. During the first year there may be only slow vegetative growth and few flowers as the plant develops its rootstock. Abundant growth and a good hop crop can be expected in the second year. A couple of applications of a nitrogen-rich fertilizer or manure between March and June will help ensure a good crop. Plant early in the spring about 1 metre apart and provide a strong support system for the vines - anything between 2 and 4 metres will work fine. Harvest dates will vary according to variety and location but at maturity the hop aroma will be very strong when the cone is rubbed between the fingers. The cones develop a drier, papery feel and tend to become lighter in colour - some browning of the lower bracts is a good sign of ripenesss.