Ramble On

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Brewery Visit - on Business!

The whole reason for my day trip out to Hawksbill Cabin last week was to continue my market research about growing hops in Virginia.  While our history with hops is not as strong as it is elsewhere, like New York on the east coast, and the Pacific Coast from Northern California up to Washington State in the west, there is a growing craft brewing industry that has created an interest in domestic growers.

My association with Dan and Bill, and the rest of the Blue Ridge Brewers Association, introduced me to the hobby of growing hops on a small scale to support home brewing. Gradually I've learned about the Old Dominion Hops Co-operative, and it was my plan to go to one of their outreach events at Corcoran Brewery in Purcellville in the evening after running errands with David in the morning.

That's not a bad thing, having a business meeting in a brewery - especially if the topic is focused on growing a key ingredient - hops!

I also took advantage of being at a brewery to take some photos, and experiment with a new app I have on the phone - so the brewery photos here are the results of that little diversion.

While I've done some significant market research about growing hops, I've been looking forward to meeting with the co-op to learn more.  Evaluating the feasibility of establishing a farm to source hops for local breweries is a key goal of mine, so I had hoped to collect a bit more information from this session - and I did.

The facilitator was Stan, who founded the co-op.  He covered the basics of growing hops - I still have some unanswered questions in this department, but he covered everything he could in the session, which was aimed at a broader population, and maybe not so much me.

Two breweries were there - the host, Corcoran, and Lost Rhino - both of whom buy fresh hops from the local farmers when the harvest comes in.

I spent some time studying the beer offerings at Corcoran, intending to sample a few.  Unfortunately they were out of the Black IPA, but they had a back-up IPA with the name "Hops the Bunny" - apparently alludes to a rodent who used to frequent their old location.  I enjoyed the beer enough to have a second one.

To sum up my takeaways from the event - they'd be a good understanding of what it takes to set up a hop yard, an understanding of the annual cycle for the farm (from planting to marketing), and an introduction to the local hops market as it is evolving in Virginia.  All good info for my next step...whatever that will be!

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