You've grown your hops all summer long, you've dehydrated them, and now you are ready to use them. Congratulations, this is the moment you have been waiting for!
- Make sure the hops you have grown will work for the beer you plan on making. Don't use Centennial hops when you are trying to make a wheat beer. We know it is tempting to use what you grew and everything, but not every hop variety is meant for every beer.
- Be careful with the first batch made using your hops, so you don't make a beer so hoppy that you can't enjoy it. Even though the alpha acid is going to be close to what you can buy in the store, you are going to get more flavors out of the fresh hops. I know this is hard to hear for some people, but you can over hop a beer. Instead of getting a great hoppy flavor, you end up with an astringent or sanitizer taste in your beer.
- Measure out your hops on a scale because it can be very difficult to eyeball what an ounce looks like when you are dealing with hop cones. You do not need to break them up or do anything to the cones because the outer leaf is what carries the oil that you are looking for in your beer. Most of us will cut the total hops amount down by ¼ when using our own hops. That means if your recipe normally calls for 1 ounce of Cascade hops, only use ¾ ounce of Cascade. The fresh hops will definitely let you know they are there.
- Add the hops just like you would for your recipe. You don't need to adjust boil times when using your own hops. Wait for the beer to ferment like normal, bottle, and drink (repeat). Now, aren't you glad you grew your own hops?