Friday, April 13, 2012

Hi Folks!!

In an effort create more synergy for the hop growing movement, the Eastern Hops Guild will merge into the Southern Appalachian Hops Guild effective April 15th, 2012. The Eastern hops guild blog site will continue to be live until may 15th, 2012 and will be shut down at that time.

We hope that all of you that are currently following the Eastern Hops Guild Blog will be begin to follow the Southern Appalachian Hops Guild blog. We hope that this merger will allow us to incorporate more post from various growers, extension personnel, hobbyist and brewers from all the eastern region. We hope to create a thriving dialog that accentuates topics to help growers improve techniques, find inspiration, learn about successes and from one anothers mistakes.

New post are already being shared on the Southern site that discuss how our dogwood winter is effecting the bines.

Thanks so much for your support and hope to see your faces on the SAHG site!!

For any questions, please feel free to contact Chris at

Here is the link to the SAHG -

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mountain Hopping from Justin Farrar to focus on hop growing in our area

Mountain Hopping
Get out and get hopping
by Justin F. Farrar in Vol. 17 / Iss. 02 on 08/03/2010
[Editor’s note: This week, Xpress debuts our new biweekly beer column, wherein our intrepid, brews-obsessed reporter takes on different facets of WNC’s brew culture. Mountain Hopping will be a dispatch-style exploration of the people and places behind the regional beer economy. Gonzo journalism? Maybe. But a first-person take outside the well-quaffed path. Mountain Hopping will supplement our Brews News column, which will continue to run biweekly as well. We think they’ll complement each other nicely, and cover lots of WNC beer bases.]
Picking these hops is kicking my ass. It’s barely noon, and already I’m yearning for a cold one and a little James Gang on the stereo. Sun and labor have transformed my body into a nexus of slime, stench and ache. And just look at those poor mitts: molasses-hued stains on fingertips, while itchy red-bumps — resembling a relief map of some heretofore undiscovered mountain range — circle both wrists.
For the inaugural installment of “Mountain Hopping” I had intended to pen a blurry-eyed dispatch from the tail end of a craft-beer binge across our fine region. Too gonzo cliché, I ultimately realized. Instead, I’m kicking things off with sobering experientiality: a sweat-soaked (half) day of helping grow and harvest a plant that has become, since sometime in Middle Ages, the most popular flavoring agent in the greatest of all alchemical practices (beer brewing).
Founded in 2005 by one Julie Jensen, who greeted me at the gates this morning in a “Don’t Worry, Be Hoppy” tee, Echoview is an audacious stab at a “sustainable” commercial farm, one specializing in four primary crops: in addition to hops, there are bees, bamboo and even solar energy. Hops, though, is big daddy. Having just hosted its First Annual Hops Festival on July 31, the farm is looking to become major player in the region.
The property, just a few miles outside Weaverville town center, is a 70-plus acre spread, the layout of which Jensen likens to an outstretched hand. It’s home to eight varieties of hops, all of them in first-, second- and third-year stages of development. Three to five years, explains Jensen, is required to produce a truly viable crop. Until then, it’s a costly slog through hardcore trial, error and correction.
Along with General Manager Ric Horst (whose Texas Ranger-like ruggedness is pure No Country for Old Men) and farmhands Ryan Wooton and Aaron West, I’m working a hop field that contains four rows of a popular variety called “cascade.” Each plant slithers up a 10-foot rope suspended from a cable. On many of the farms in Oregon and Washington machinery has replaced the act of hand picking the cones dotting the bines. But compared to the massive ventures out west, Echoview is a feisty, young upstart. We’re kicking it old school: from pungent plant to plastic cup to drying screen. Over and over and over.
As we pick — and pick some more — my temporary boss and coworkers school me in the ways of this scratchy little bastard: alphas, betas, rhizomes, moisture levels and so on. The crop, I learn, is beyond finicky. Without delving into any abstruse science, growing hops is no less laborious than the taming of the shrew. And as Horst is quick to point out, our region’s humidity and dizzying array of ravenous pests do not make the courtship any easier.
Everybody here at Echoview welcomes the daunting challenge. Their excitement stems in part from the wide-open nature of WNC’s hops economy. “The hops-farm movement in North Carolina is reminiscent of what was going on in the northwest 20 to 25 years ago,” says Chris Richards, Brewmaster over at French Broad Brewing. “Even though we’re still a few years away, everybody’s trying to create this microcosm of industry in terms of getting the hops directly from the farmers.”
Here’s the one humongous hurdle: our region is home to numerous farms mainly hawking their whole hops and/or wet hops to the homebrew scene. Yet none of them have the processing facilities needed to transform their crop into the creature of consistency commercial brewers like Richards crave: pellet hops.
Very few breweries in Beer City, USA, actually use regional hops in high-volume brewing. Instead, they purchase them from various pelletizing plants around the country, all of which are at least a day’s drive from Asheville. To ship their crop to these plants isn’t financially feasible for local growers. Hops spoil so easily that shipping time between farm and plant should really be no more than one to two hours.
To be both farmer and onsite processor is exactly the long game Echoview is playing, Horst reveals. And if their big-picture plan to produce a competitively priced pellet hop of quality succeeds somewhere down the road, it will only strengthen the regional craft-beer industry, making it a far more localized and self-reliant entity.
Jensen and her team totally understand the costs of such a top-shelf facility. In fact, they even seem energized by both the rewards and the risks.
It’s an energy that’s downright infectious. On the other hand — when’s lunch around here?
Until next time, may your foameth never overruneth

Monday, April 5, 2010

Hop Trials and Local Grower spotlighted

Great Article about Hops under going some research trials in North Carolina. Also, Spotlight on Van Burnette, Black Mountain Hops Grower.

Hopping into a new crop
April 05, 2010
Media Contacts: Rob Austin, 919.513.0255 or, or Dr. Jeanine Davis, 828.684.3562 or

Rob Austin (left) of NCSU and Chris Davis, head brewer at Fullsteam Brewery, plant hop rhizomes at the Lake Wheeler Road Field Laboratory in Raleigh. (Becky Kirkland photo)
When Van Burnette wanted a drought-resistant crop to try on his 6-acre farm near Black Mountain, he decided on hops. The problem is, no one really knows much about how the essential beer ingredient will grow in North Carolina, much less whether burgeoning interest in local beers and home brewing will translate into a sustainable market.
N.C. State University specialists are out to change that, cooperating with Burnette and a few other pioneering North Carolina hops growers to figure out viable production, post-harvest and marketing options.
At the university's field laboratory off Lake Wheeler Road in Raleigh, Rob Austin and Dr. Deanna Osmond, of the Department of Soil Science, planted a quarter-acre experimental hop yard recently.
And from the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center in Mills River, horticulture specialist Dr. Jeanine Davis is monitoring conditions at four mountain farms where hops are being grown.
Some of the key questions the scientists will be asking: Can new varieties and better production practices ease the disease pressures that pushed the East Coast hops industry to Oregon and Washington decades ago? What types of nutrients and soils do the fast-growing plants need? And do local conditions impart flavors and aromas that beer producers will be interested in buying?
Austin, a geographic information specialist, has some experience with hops: He's a home brewer, and for eight years he's been growing a few plants along a fence in his backyard in Apex.
But, he points out, there's a big difference between growing something in your backyard and growing it on a scale that makes it a worthwhile commercial endeavor.
Hops are climbing perennials that on most farms are grown on expensive 20-foot trellis systems, he explains. The up-front costs that such systems require aren't immediately recouped because, as with winegrapes, hops take about three years to be fully established.
Also, cost-effective mass production requires large acreage and specialized machinery for harvesting the flowers (or cones, as they are called), drying them and turning them into pellets. Such machinery is used in Oregon and Washington, which currently have the national hops market sown up.
But a few years ago there was a national hops shortage, which raised the price of hops -��� and the hopes of growers looking for alternative crops. Austin says the Raleigh home brew store he bought hops from even went as far as to limit the amount of hops a customer could buy. That led him to wonder if North Carolina farmers might be able to help fill the gap.
Davis says scores of growers had similar ideas.
"When it comes to interest in growing hops, people are coming out of the woodwork. We had 100 people on a hops tour we had last year," Davis says. "But we need to stress this is very risky. We know very little about it. And we have real concerns."
She, Austin and Burnette think that North Carolina is unlikely to become a major hops producer. The major hops-growing region is drier than North Carolina, and this makes them concerned about the damage that diseases such as downy mildew and powdery mildew could cause. But they are hopeful that new, more resilient hops varieties and advances in disease control might make it easier to avoid devastating losses.

Van Burnette started growing hops in 2009. (Photo courtesy of Van Burnette)
Burnette is looking forward to being involved in the N.C. State hops research project, which is funded by a one-year grant from Golden LEAF, a foundation that supports research into economic alternatives for tobacco-dependent communities.
Burnette's farm has been in his family for 150 years, and he's hopeful that niche markets for crops like hops and blueberries and associated tourism will prove economically sustainable.
A Western North Carolina AgOptions grant from North Carolina Cooperative Extension enabled him to set up his hop yard, and he's hopeful that the grant-funded research project will led to reliable production recommendations.
"The hops project can't do anything but benefit me and the rest of us growers," he says. "I know that I found it frustrating -��� and so did the other growers -��� that there's not enough known about hops. ... I mean, how do you know what hops need as far as the soil? And how are we going to take care of these pests and diseases? And how are we going to know for sure what kind of pests and diseases we have?"
In spite of so many production challenges and questions, he and others think the growing local food movement and the interest in specialty and regional beers could mean that buyers are willing to pay a premium for locally produced hops with special qualities.
In Burnette's case, a small brewery that's less than 5 miles from his farm bought all the hops he was able to produce last year. This year, he plans to sell most of what he produces to that brewery, but he's also planning a second "you-pick" harvest for home brewers.
Interest in North Carolina hops production has been highest in the mountains, perhaps because Asheville has a growing reputation as a center for microbrewery. It's been called "Brewtopia" and named the East Coast's "Beer City, USA."
In the Piedmont, interest is gaining momentum. For example, Sean Wilson is weeks away from opening Fullsteam, a Durham brewery. The company's tagline -- "plow-to-pint beer from the beautiful South" -- emphasizes local connections.
"Our goal is to try to ... be the bridge that connects consumers who want local with farmers," he says.
Already, the beer maker is buying all the rhubarb it can find locally, and the company is looking into purchasing locally processed sweet potato puree.
When it comes to locally produced hops, Wilson is cautiously enthusiastic.
"We would like nothing more than for our flagship beer, which we call Carolina Common, to use North Carolina-grown hops, at least in part of the process if not for the entire thing," he says. But, he adds, "beer is an art and a science, and for us to rely on a hop provider, there has to be a fair amount of science involved. ... They have to meet exacting standards to make quality, consistent beer.
"And we have to be practical when we look at our flagship beer," he says. "Like any business, we have to be attuned to our raw ingredient costs, and that's where the challenge is: There's an opportunity, but it's a challenge."
Written by: Dee Shore, 919.513.3117 or

Monday, March 22, 2010

Rhizomes available for sale at the Hops cultivation seminar

Its possible that there will be 200 cascades and 150 centennial rhizomes for sale at the March 6th and 7th hop cultivation seminar. Those interested please email me Chris at

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Preregistration is now available for the upcoming hops growing seminar - Hops - a cultivation seminar for the prospective, beginning, and intermediate grower. Class space is filling up so preregister while there is still space!

Please use the following link and enter "Hops" under the title and click the button that says show classes. Here you will find the course number (SEF -2039-100) and description.

Registration information is available at:

Hope to see you there!!! If you have hops rhizomes you wish to buy, sell or trade, please feel free to bring them.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Eastern Hops Guild on Facebook

Look for the Eastern Hops Guild on Facebook. The latest topic of discussion deals with growers experiences with hop rhizome dealers. Please feel free to share any similar experiences on this forum also.

Hops – a cultivation seminar for the prospective, beginning and intermediate grower

The Eastern Hops Guild is proud to coordinate the upcoming Natural Products Business seminar at AB-Tech through the BioNetwork. Hops – a cultivation seminar for the prospective, beginning and intermediate grower. The Seminar will consist of five 2 hour presentations on April 6th and 7th, Tuesday and Wednesday, 2010. The classes have been allotted a minimum of 30 minutes for Question and Answer sessions. Class fee is $25. Here is the Current line of speakers:

Day One - Tues, April, 6 2010

10am - 12pm, Economics of the Hop yard - Chris Reedy, Eastern Hops guild, program coordinator, Hops seminar coordinator
1 pm - 3pm, A year in the life of the Hop yard - Van Burnette, Hop farmer & entertainer
3 pm - 5pm, Soil Fertility/Nutrient Management - Bill Yarborough, NCDA&CS regional agronomist

Day Two - Wed., April 7 2010

10am - 12pm, Integrated Disease and Pest management, Sue Colucci, NCSU Area Specialized Agent for Commercial Horticulture
1pm - 3pm, Hops, a brewers perspective, Andy Dahm, French Broad Brewery, Asheville brewers supply and the Consigliere of Brewing in Asheville
3:30pm - 5pm, optional brewery tour at French Broad Brewery

Topics of discussion will include:

1. Start-up cost
2. A realistic look at the labor requirements in hop cultivation.
3. Specific nutrient and micro-nutrient ranges
4. How to take and understand your soil samples. Soil samples kits will be provided at the seminar. Those who pre-register are encouraged to take soil samples from their yards and bring the results to the seminar. (Bill Yarborough has agreed to help interpret your results. Check out this link for more information or see your local extension agent for a free soil sample kit.(North Carolina only)
5. Specific hop disease and pest that have already been observed in our region as well as the methods of treatment.
6. Possible non invasive techniques to reduce the risk of possible disease and pest.
7. A brewer’s perspective on hops which includes Hop chemistry, processing, quality, and use in the brewing process.
8. Also, an optional brewery tour to one of Asheville’s oldest breweries.

And much more

Please contact Sarah Schober at


Chris Reedy at