Hops are the dried, flowering part of the hop plant. They are commonly used in brewing beer and as flavoring components in foods. Hops are also used to make medicine.
Hops are commonly used orally for anxiety, sleep disorders such as the inability to sleep (insomnia) or disturbed sleep due to rotating or nighttime work hours (shift work disorder), restlessness, tension, excitability, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), nervousness, irritability, and symptoms of menopause among other uses. But there is limited scientific evidence to support using hopes for any of these conditions.
The chemicals in hops seem to have weak effects similar to the hormone estrogen. Some chemicals in hops also seem to reduce swelling, prevent infections, and cause sleepiness.
- Decline in memory and thinking skills that occurs normally with age. Early research shows that taking bitter acids from hops for 12 weeks can improve thinking skills and mental fatigue in older people. But it doesn’t seem to improve memory.
- Symptoms of menopause. Early research shows that taking a specific product containing hops extract daily does not improve menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes after 8-12 weeks of treatment.
- Sleep disorder due to rotating or night shifts (shift work disorder). Early research shows that drinking non-alcoholic beer containing hops at dinner can reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep by about 8 minutes in nurses working rotating or night shifts. It also seems to decrease total activity during the night and anxiety. However, it doesn’t appear to increase the total amount of time slept.
Our hops Growing Process
Our growers begin some ground preparation. Choose a south-facing location that receives plenty of daytime sunlight, ideally one that is slightly elevated and drains well.
Come spring, our growers place rhizomes of the same variety about 3 feet (1 meter) apart and keep different cultivars at least 6 feet (2 meters) from one another. Bury each rhizome about 6–12 inches (15–30 cm) deep, oriented horizontally.
Our growers goal is to provide enough water to help the plant establish its roots, but not so much that the rhizomes start to rot. Once the first shoots break the surface of the soil (2–4 weeks after planting), things will start moving quickly—it’s not uncommon for plants to grow up to a foot (30 cm) per day at the height of summer.
By late August or early September, the cones will lighten in color and begin to dry and feel papery. These visual and tactile clues are your indication that it’s time to harvest, though a more scientific approach is to conduct a dry matter test. Once our growers have made the decision to harvest, they simply snip the top of the twine that the plant has climbed and lay the bine flat on the ground. Our growers pick the cones from the bine and either use them straight away (within 24 hours) in a wet-hopped beer or dry them for future use. Our growers leave the bines attached to the plant until the first frost, then cut the plants about a foot (30 cm) above the ground and discard the bines in preparation for winter.
Our high capacity makeshift racks handles the harvest. Our growers aim for brittle, papery-feeling hops cones with stems that snap when bent. Our warm warehouse is an ideal location in which we dry our hops because it’s out of the sun but hot enough (without being too hot) to encourage rapid dehydration.
Our growers vacuum seal them to keep oxidation at bay and freeze them to preserve freshness. Well-stored hops should remain good for at least a year. But our growers brew as frequently to ensure that they last that long.