Growing Hops in Whiskey Barrels

This year I decided to try my hand a growing hops! I’ve read that it’s easy to do and figured it would be fun to brew beer with my own hops. I was inspired by a past episode of Chop n’ Brew where the guys talked about growing hops in backyards and in whiskey or planting barrels (side note: Chop n’ Brew is a great homebrewing podcast, you should check it out). Earlier this year one of the online hombrew shops had a pre-sale of hop rhizomes so I ordered two Cascade and two Centennial rhizomes. Once I received the rhizomes I put them in the fridge to keep them fresh.

Next, I picked an area near the southern side of my house that gets the most sun, hit the Home Depot for some supplies and got to work.

Here’s my supply list if you want to do this on your own:

  • 2- Whiskey Planting Barrels
  • 1- bag of Gravel or Crushed Stone
  • 3-4 64qt bags of Miracle-Gro Potting Mix (I only needed 3 bags and 1/4 of another bag)
  • 2- Tomato Cages
  • Hop Rhizomes (two for each barrel). I pre-ordered mine from MoreBeer

Word on the street is that hops will grow like gangbusters so make sure you have space to build a trellis of some sort so the hop vines can grow. I’m going to run some twine from the tomato cages up to the side of my house once the vines start growing and training the vines to use the twine to grow. I’ll be posting the progress in the next few months to see how this is working out.

Next, I drilled a few additional drainage holes in the bottom of each barrel and filled the barrels with a few inches of gravel to help with drainage.

I then filled each barrel with potting mix and with some metal cutters chopped down the size of the tomato cages so they were secured to the bottom of the gravel. I read an article that said to use tomato cages so you can easily train the hop vines before they get too big.

Finally it was time to plant the rhizomes! I dug about a 4-5 inch hole and spaced the two rhizomes about 2 inches apart from each other.  Make sure the buds are facing up and cover them with potting mix to form a small mound. I did this with the other barrel and…mission complete!  Be sure to water your hops once a day. I’ve been using about half of a watering can for each barrel.

If everything goes well you should see your hops growing like this in a few weeks! I’ll be posting updates throughout the season on my progress. Are you growing hops this season?

One thought on “Growing Hops in Whiskey Barrels

  1. I pondered growing some hops this year, but decided to focus on my other garden plants. I’ll bet those fresh hops taste great in the fall. Looking forward to following your progress!

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