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Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2015 / 02 

Hops conference brings together growers, brewers to expand local sources for key beer commodity

February 20, 2015

Bunch of hops.
Hops are a becoming a popular specialty crop in the commonwealth. Growers and beer brewers hope to augment the state's hops production to fuel the burgeoning craft brew industry in Virginia.

The region's burgeoning craft beer industry is the impetus for the first North Carolina-Virginia Regional Hops Conference, March 13-14, at North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s Forsyth County Center in Winston-Salem.

The program features growers, brewers, and researchers from both North Carolina and Virginia.

With a growing craft beer industry in both North Carolina and Virginia, this event seeks to develop new, local sources of hops — a key ingredient in craft beer. Most U.S.-grown hops are currently produced in the Pacific Northwest.

There are more than 100 craft breweries in Virginia, and the craft beer industry now supports more than 8,000 jobs and has a $623 million economic impact on the state, according to the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild.

During the preconference session on Friday, those new to the industry will learn how to grow hops from experienced growers. Rita Pelczar and John Wright of Blue Ridge Hops in Western North Carolina and David Goode of Piedmont Hops, with hop yards in North Carolina and Virginia, will lead this session.

Saturday’s keynote speaker, Steve Miller, is a hops specialist from Cornell University. He will talk about building an eastern hops industry from lessons learned in the Northeast. Other speakers include experienced growers, representatives from local craft breweries, researchers from North Carolina and Virginia, and other industry representatives. Lunch will be provided.

To register, view the event schedule, and find information about accommodations, visit the conference website.

The conference is co-chaired by Jeanine Davis, hops researcher and cooperative extension specialist, North Carolina State University, and Stan Driver, co-chair of Old Dominion Hops Cooperative and owner of HootnHoller Hops.

Members of the program committee are Sebastian Wolfrum, Brewmill brewmaster; Mary Jac Brennan Forsyth, North Carolina Extension agent; Sean O'Keefe, brewing science researcher at Virginia Tech; Ken Hurley, beer chemist at Virginia Tech; Laban Rutto, hops researcher at Virginia State University; Rita Pelczar and John Wright, growers, Blue Ridge Hops; Seth Cohen, brewing scientist at Appalachian State University; Margo Metzger, director of the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild; Cassidy Rasnick, director of the Virginia Brewers Guild; and Holly Scoggins, horticulturist at Virginia Tech.

For more information, contact Jeanine Davis at 828-684-356 or at jeanine_davis@ncsu.edu (please put "Hops Conference" in the subject line).

 

 

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