Monday, August 31, 2009

Hops Tour a Success!

Over 100 people attended the first ever Hops Farm and Brewery Tour on Saturday coordinated by the NC Cooperative Extension Service. Small farms agent, Melinda Roberts, organized the event which consisted of a two farm tour at Landfair Farm and Hop'n Blueberry Farm and a tour of a local microbrewery, Pisgah Brewing Company.

The day started at Landfair Farms, where Julie Jenson and her tireless crew cultivate approximately 1,300 hops bines. The hops varieties they grow include, Cascade, Willamete, Brewers Gold and others.

The crowd came eager to learn, despite the early threat of rain.

Dr. Jeanine Davis (read more about the tour on her new blog!) discussed the efforts she has been taking to advance our knowledge of hops production in WNC. Dr. Davis also discussed that with new crops we have a lot to learn and a lot of challenges to face- but that is what makes hops fun and exciting. She also stressed that it is important that growers communicate with one another and take notes because we have a lot to learn.

The crowd listened attentively.

Next Chris Reedy, local beer and hops enthusiast, discussed his efforts to start a guild for hops growers. After the tour Chris founded the Eastern Hops Guild. This will be just the type of organization that Dr. Davis discussed. A group of individuals with the common goal to forward the hops industry here in WNC.

Next, Julie Jenson, the proprietor of Landfair Farms, discussed the farm. Julie explained her passion for farming and her desire to grow the hops at Landfair Farms organically. Though, she did explain that there are many challenges with growing a new crop, including lots of learning!

After the presentation, participants had time to roam through the hop yard and form connections with other interested individuals. I had a great time with the folks in this picture discussing diseases, insects and site selection. My first question is always "What beer do you like to drink?"

Folks then enjoyed lunch at Landfair Farms. Chef in Motion provided delicious sandwiches and dessert. These folks enjoyed the food and meeting the resident pooches.

Next, we were off to Black Mountain to Hop'n Blueberry Farm owned by Van Burnett. Van is a 2009 WNC AgOptions Grant Recipient. Van was also featured in the Black Mountain News.

Here is Van and Melinda welcoming the crowd to Hop'n Blueberry Farm!

Van, always animated, explained his hop yard and all the hard work he has put into it. Below, he explains his high tech harvesting equipment (a canvas tote bag).

Here Van show the participants how his trellis is on a winch system so that he can lower the bines for harvesting. Despite his fears, the bines do not get entangled when he lowers them.

Here you can see Van's hop yard and all of the people that were in attendance. Some of the varieties that Van grows include Chinook, Centennial and Nugget.

You reap what you sow! Below is dried hops from Van's harvest. He has tried a few different methods, vacuum sealing, freezing, air drying.

Hops in the hand is worth two in the...

Finally, we were off to Pisgah Brewing Company located nearby in Black Mountain.

And we got to sample three beers 1. Endless Summer Ale 2. India Pale Ale and 3. Belgian Amber.

Dave, the man in charge and exuberant tour guide, explained that Pisgah Brewing Company desires to remain a small microbrewery and to purchase local hops and as many local ingredients as possible. Dave also explained the brewing process and showed the participants his set-up.

Well the day had to end somewhere. This participant enjoyed the hops and brewery tour day so much, that his day ended with dancing a little jig.

It ended up being a beautiful day!

To learn more about hops production, visit the following sites:

North Carolina Specialty Crops Site
Oregon Crop Profile on Hops
Organic Hop Production
Hop Production in New England


Jeanine Davis said...

Good recap of the day and great pictures. Thanks for posting it, Sue!

Brooke said...

Looks like it was a great time enjoyed by all! Nice post and great blog!