(512) Brew News

Homegrown Co-Humulone (by Spencer Tielkemeier) by Kevin - Owner/Brewer
May 26, 2011, 10:14 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

One of the interesting things about transitioning from homebrewer to professional brewer, the route many pros have taken, is that the precious hobby that is brewing becomes a job. That’s not to say that I don’t love my job, I very much do, but the fact remains that brewing is no longer my hobby but my livelihood. As a result, that slot in my life labeled “hobby” now has a vacancy sign hanging over it.

That’s not entirely true, as hobbies aren’t really hard to come by. I had plenty waiting in line to fill that proverbial vacancy once I decided to tie on the rubber boots at (512). One of my longtime interests that had remained relatively unexplored until recently is gardening. The simple joy of tending something with care and standing back to watch its daily growth enthralls me as it has so many others before.

So, when Kevin approached me about heading up a hop growing side project, naturally I accepted with relish. (Here I go mixing work and hobby again.) After talking for a while about a plan, we decided that our vision for this year would simply be to experimentally try several varieties that we use in-house and observe their tolerance to the tough Texas climate. My father and I had some success last year growing several varieties in Grapevine (my hometown), so I figured we’d give it a shot.

Several Makers Mark barrels from the Whiskey Barrel Aged Double Pecan Porter were cut in half for use as pots in an effort to use recycled materials (plus they just look cool.) Our soil came from Austin’s The Natural Gardener. We utilized Ladybug Brand fertilizer made in Dripping Springs, TX and Garrett Juice, a natural plant food made by Howard Garrett, a local organic gardening guru in the DFW area. As a result, our hops are organically grown, furthering our commitment to use as many local and organic ingredients as possible.

A quick word about hops for those who are unfamiliar. The hop plant is a flowering vine of the genus Humulus that grows wild in many regions of the world. They tend to grow best in regions along the 48th Parallel North, hence why most of the hops produced in the US come from Washington and Oregon. Years of study and crossbreeding have yielded hundreds of different varieties, many of which are able to stand up to threats (heat, mildew, etc.) that their wild cousins would never be able to weather. The vines, if given enough food, are voracious and will produce massive amounts of growth per day in the late spring/early summer. Once they begin to flower, they produce cone-shaped flowers that contain a sticky yellow oil called lupulin. This oil is what gives hops all their bitterness, flavor, and aroma.

Enough chit chat, here are some pictures to show you our progress:

Though these vines will certainly not produce enough to make even one batch of beer, they are a start on a project that could yield much more practical results in years to come. Today: 6 vines. Tomorrow: (512) Homegrown Ale? Only time will tell.

As always, thanks for drinking (512).


Spencer Tielkemeier, Brewer


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I would LOVE to have any more barrels you have left to do similar. Need at least 2 barrels! Will pay a reasonable fee….or something from my hobby 😀

Comment by Chris Lehr

Really cool Spencer nice work.


Comment by Amos Lowe

I like the half barrel look. Which varieties did you plant? I’ve got first year Willamette, Mt Hood, Cascade, Nugget, and Centennial. All but the Mt Hood have already produced cones. However, the heat has been hard on them. I have a thread going on homebrewtalk.com (handle is Vvino). Any update on how yours are doing?


Comment by David

Nice work Spencer. I’m getting a hop-growing side project going at Green Gate Farms myself pretty soon.

Comment by Tony

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