Growing Hops in Florida?
My friend Pastor Joel just shared a picture of his happily growing hops in Florida:
For home brewers, hops are very important. They give beer its unique flavor, balancing the sweetness of the fermented malt with their clean and evocative bitterness.
Growing hops in Florida is generally not done. Hops grow in colder climates, which makes sense since the best beers are usually crafted in temperate Europe.
My friend Bruce Bethke (who is a more famous writer than myself… and the one who urged me to write and not look back) grows hops in his Minnesota garden. The roots are frozen beneath the ice all winter.
That’s a far cry from Joel’s garden in the Gainesville area… yet Joel has gotten a half-pound of hops in his very first year of growing hops in Florida!
Growing Hops in Florida: How Joel Did It
I asked Joel how he grew these hops since I was wondering if the hot sun of Florida might be too much for them. Apparently not! Joel writes:
“Planted them along a full sun south facing fence running up bamboo. Only got about 10 feet in length but should do better 2nd year. No problem with pests at all.”
Some years ago I bought some hops roots from a large mail order nursery and planted them along my fence. They never got taller than a few feet and ended up dying after the first year or so. The problem in that case, in part, was that they were “out of sight, out of mind,” and didn’t get cared for.
The other part was that they lacked much vigor at the onset. When I first planted them they got water, mulch and compost… but still just crept along. I didn’t baby them after the first few months and they never really got going. I don’t think they were from good stock.
Joel is a meticulous and methodical gardener. He has been making plenty of compost from the abundance of fallen leaves drifting into his yard, plus he has deep mulched his gardens and mixed in old chicken manure and kitchen scraps.
We shall see how these Florida hops do in future years, but I’d say if anyone could pull them off, it would be Joel.
After all, have you seen his homemade kegerator?
Anyone else have experience growing hops in Florida?
I would love to hear your story – please share in the comments.