There was a time when I bought my first kit when I thought “This is amazing! For the price of a 2000 yen kit and 1500 yen in malt I can make 70 bottles of beer! I’m going to save so much money!”

Not on your nelly.

Once you replace “kit” with malt and hops, the cost doubles. Then you start looking at fridges, dispensing machines, kegs. And that’s before even thinking about going onto full grain.

The latest expense for my obsession: a $200 monster hop order (plus about $40 delivery) from Freshops.

This is what should be gracing my doorstep in about 2 weeks time:

12oz 2008 Amarillo hops
12oz 2008 Cascade hops
8oz 2008 Centennial hops
8oz 2008 Chinook hops
2oz 2008 Crystal hops
8oz 2008 Fuggle hops
6oz 2008 Golding hops
4oz 2008 Magnum hops
2oz 2008 Mt. Hood hops
4oz 2008 Nugget hops
4oz 2008 Perle hops
2oz 2008 Czech Saaz hops
4oz 2008 Simcoe hops
2oz 2008 Sterling hops
4oz 2008 Willamette hops
8oz 2008 Zeus hops
2oz 2008 Organic New Zealand Hallertauer hops
2oz 2008 Organic Pacific Gem hops

That’s a total of 94oz, equivalent of 23.5 packs of 4oz. I went a bit crazy, huh? But that’s what happens when you live in Japan and you can’t get hops.  If I assume one 4oz pack per beer and 3 beers per month, I could do almost six months of brewing without needing new hops.

The equivalent to buy these in Japan would be around $500, if I could get them. So not only am I getting hops I can’t find in Japan, I’m getting them half price! (You can see how I convinced myself to go ahead with this purchase, can’t you?!)

How did I work out what to buy? I started off by selecting the “staple” hops I want for the beers that I like, IPAs and bitters, biasing the quantities toward recipes I already have in my mind. That gave me amarillo, cascade, centennial, chinook, fuggle, golding, and zeus (columbus). Then I added some other hops which I’ve seen appear sometimes in recipes for those styles so that I have variants: magnum, nugget, perle, simcoe, willamette. Finally I just thought “sod it” and decided to add 2oz of everything remaining (except sorachi ace which is apparently a waste of hops) so that should I find a recipe that needs them for flavour or aroma, I wont be kicking myself for not having ordered them.  (I’m sick reading recipe ideas only to find out I don’t have the hop and can’t get it in Japan, such as All Amarillo IPA.)

Freshops was recommended to me by one of the homebrewers I met at the hanami a few weeks ago as one of two suppliers he knows who will ship to Japan. The other was Hops Direct. While Hops Direct is cheaper ($21 for a pound of cascade vs $32 from Freshops), the minimum order of any hop from Hops Direct is 1lb. With Freshops I can get a little of everything.

Now the thought of a kegerator with attached freezer is becoming more and more appealing. I’ll need somewhere to keep those hops..