I've been growing two main varieties. Target, a traditional English bittering hop and Bramling Cross, an English aroma hop.
Bramling Cross were far more prolific this year, mainly due to the fact that the other variety had to be moved at the start of the season, as I'd constructed some new frames to support the vines and it wasn't possible to erect these in their original position.
The Bramling Cross had very large vivid green cones and were ready to harvest a week or two before the Target. To be honest, I probably harvested them a week too late. Many of the cones had begun to be tinged with brown, but I couldn't pick any sooner as we caught the tail end of Hurricane Katia just when I wanted to harvest and it became too wet.
The Target cones are smaller and have a red hue about them. I didn't expect too much from them this year, having been transplanted at the start of the season, but they still produced a fair few cones.
Once harvested, the hops were dried, spread in a single layer on net curtain material in the loft. There was plenty of heat to do the job and they were dried in a couple of days.
I need to invest in a vacuum sealer, but for now I bagged them up and stored them in the freezer. I managed 850g (dried weight) of the Bramling Cross and 580g of the Target.
I've got a brew earmarked for the Target hops in a few weeks time. Before that, I'm hoping to brew a traditonal English bitter. Providing I get my broken copper back this week, I may be able to squeeze in the first brew this Thursday.
One downside to growing your own is the uncertainty over the acid content. The alpha acid is the source of hop bitterness, which is obvioulsy an important factor in getting a nicely balanced beer.
But, to be honest, unless you're trying to brew a competition beer, I'm not so sure that a percentage here or there is ultimately going to make too much difference. According to the Murphy's web site, Bramling Cross come in the acid range of 5%-7% and Target 8% -10%. If I take the lower end of the scale, I don't think I'll go far wrong.