While the vast majority of hops are grown along the 48th latitude in places like the Pacific Northwest, England or Germany, many farmers are starting to grow hops in North Carolina and Virginia. Several of these farmers will meet with brewers at the NC-VA Hops Conference, held at NC State University’s Forsyth County Center in Winston-Salem on Friday, March 13 and Saturday, March 14. You can purchase tickets for both sessions here.
The Friday portion of the conference will actually be a pre-conference event featuring farmers from Blue Ridge Hops in Western North Carolina and Piedmont Hops, which has farms in North Carolina as well as Virginia.
The main conference on Saturday will from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and include several sessions on growing hops and the challenges Southern farmers face. Steve Miller, a hops specialist from Cornell University, will be the keynote speaker. Brewery representatives from Fullsteam Brewery and Lost Rhino Brewing will also discuss what breweries look for when purchasing hops from small growers.
The event is co-chaired by Jeanine Davis, hops researcher and extension specialist at NC State University and Stan Driver, co-chair of the Old Dominion Hops Cooperative and owner of Hoot’n Holler Hops.
Full disclosure: I’ll be attending this conference for free as a member of the media, as I hope to once again write about the small but burgeoning hop farm industry in North Carolina. I wrote about some of them last September for this Our State Magazine piece.