by Leah Small
As the craft beer craze continues, this region’s farmers want to make sure that beer isn't the only thing brewed locally. They want the stuff that gives its flavor a kick to be homegrown, too.
More farmers have taken up the challenge of growing hops on their home turf. It’s a hard task due to the heat and humidity of the South Atlantic. Hops for many of your favorite Virginia brews are shipped here from hundreds of miles away in the Pacific Northwest, which has a more favorable climate.
To give Southern farmers a hand, North Carolina State University, Virginia Tech, Virginia State University and the Old Dominion Hops Cooperative will talk about best growing practices at the 2016 South Atlantic Hops Conference next month.
The two-day trade show will bring farmers, brewers and agricultural scientists together to improve those green thumbs and in turn, your drinking experience. It will be held on March 4 and 5, at the Clarion Hotel Richmond Central. For those who register by Feb. 3, the early-bird price is $80.12.
Attendees will have a chance to participate in panel discussions about what brewers are seeking in local crops. Specialists will give presentations on how to build small hop yards, harvesting and processing crops, growing in nontraditional areas, beer chemistry, updates on hop research from North Carolina and Virginia universities and other hoppy topics.
Richmond is arguable one of the best places for this meeting of the minds. As of December, Virginia was home to over 130 breweries, 270 wineries, 40 distilleries and 10 cideries.To add to that list, Stone Brewing Co. expects to open its facility in Fulton Hill, in May.