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Are there any gardeners out there who use their spent hops in their compost? I know hops are antibacterial, which goes against the goal of getting a good population of composting bacteria, but I don't know how specific the effects are, especially when hops would be a relatively small percent of the total composting matter. I've seen recommendations in books both ways, but am looking for a good definitive source, or at least some anecdotes. Any ideas?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I compost mine, and they break down just as easily as most other vegetable matter that gets thrown on the pile.

I'm normally adding a few ounces of hop material at most to a compost pile that's full of pounds of grain and kitchen scraps and everything else. I think any serious anti-microbial action that they possess is outweighed by the fact that they're soaked through with sugar/nutrient water and dumped on and mixed into a huge pile of bacteria and bacterial food.

They're also mentioned as compostable in Rodale's Composting book.

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Good point - I guess I could've just thrown them in there to see, but thought that was worth a question at least. I had seen them listed as alright to compost in the Fischer's "Homebrewer's Garden" also, but I can't remember where I saw the recommendation to leave them out; I'll come back and leave a link if I can find it. Thanks, –  Erik Kastman Apr 14 '11 at 15:24

I usually chuck my spent hops in the compost and it seems to degrade without any problems. At least, my in-laws tomatoes don't seem to complain!

However, if there were any adverse effects, since we're talking <100g hops here I doubt it would make any difference to a large heap.

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I'm glad people seem to be doing it - I guess I was just curious on a theoretical level, but I agree with everyone so far - I've thrown 'em in after the response in April and also haven't seen any problems. –  Erik Kastman Jun 10 '11 at 14:56

Hops are full of nitrogen and will make for great compost.

I compose -everything- I can... veggies, hops, grains, old bread, rinsed eggshells, coffee, and fish and shellfish (can be stinky). To keep it from becoming a pile of slop, I layer in a mound of broken twigs every now and then.

It is best to compost in a pile. Do not ever dump your old hops or grain into the garden. Besides attracting pests and mold, it would take longer to compost.

Also, don't compost hops if you have a dog and he eats everything. Hops are really bad for dogs, as bad as garlic or onions. (They're bad for cats also, but cats won't eat garbage like dogs do.. they're too smart by half).

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When ScottInNH says hops are really bad for dogs, he's on the right point but I'd like to add an emphasis that the evidence so far (though limited) is that hops can cause malignant hyperthermia in some dogs which leads to cardiac arrest and death. The reports I read didn't specify an 'LD50' but had anecdotes reporting ~1 oz of spent hops as fatally toxic. Consider your neighbor's dogs as well please if your compost help is openly available. I might point out that the amount of hops you are putting into compost is really irrelevant to 'eco' concerns given the toxicity concerns. Toss 'em. –  Keith Hoffman Feb 29 '12 at 7:21

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