New Industry Spurred from Breweries Opening in NC

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Growing hops is a budding industry in North Carolina as more breweries continue to open.

To better understand brewers needs and hop growers challenges, the first ever North Carolina / Virginia Hops Conference was over the weekend in Winston-Salem.

The event allowed people in both industries to network and discuss how to make the industry stronger since it's fairly new. However, starting the initiative can be a challenge.

"You've got to be someone who is a risk taker who is innovative and has the resources to play with it for a number of years before you start making some money,” said Jeanine Davis, an NC State University professor..

Davis said hop growers struggles are similar to when the wine industry started in the state.        

"We're learning how to produce it, how to do it well and just like wine grapes have to go to someone to turn them into wine, our hops have to go to someone to turn it into beer,” said Davis.       

There are hundreds of variations and growers say finding the right one is trial and error.          

"It's a lot of physically demanding work,” said Julie Jensen, grower and owner of Echo View Farm, Julie Jensen said.

The length of daylight controls when hops are ready for harvest, which is typically mid to late summer. That’s why most hops are grown in the Pacific Northwest. 

Brewers hope North Carolina growers can one day develop a set of hops with flavor distinct to the state.

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