Showing posts with label Agriculture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Agriculture. Show all posts

November 14, 2013

Hard Cider Takes Off in Western NC

As with the rest of the United States, the craft cider scene is exploding at an impressive clip. Asheville is embracing this young and exciting movement, with a rapidly developing cider scene of its own. Six months ago there were no local cider companies in the area -- now there are three. It’s a movement that’s well suited given Western North Carolina’s abundant apple production. Two events from the past month, the first annual CiderFest NC and the MALT club annual cider pressing, introduced a number of craft beer enthusiasts to the world of cider.

October 11, 2013

Riverbend Malt House Announces Expansion, GABF Collaboration Beer

Asheville's Riverbend Malt House is in the middle of several exciting projects, including a major expansion and R&D with the North Carolina agricultural extension office. Plus, tonight in Denver, New Belgium and Wicked Weed will unveil a small batch collaboration beer made with Riverbend malt -- a Brett IPA brewed with experimental hops, German spelt, and Riverbend's Appalachian wheat.

Here's some more information about the collaboration and the release event:

August 29, 2013

Appalachian State's "Ivory Tower" Brewery Creates 100% NC Beer

all north carolina beer hops kettle
NC hops go into the kettle at ASU's
Ivory Tower Brewery.
Day by day, brewers around the country are embracing local ingredients in their beer making, whether malt, hops, honey, produce, or yeast. Now, as a new generation of brewers prepares to enter the workforce, that commitment to local suppliers is top of mind. I recently spoke with Rusty Kuhfeld, Lab Coordinator for the Appalachian State fermentation science program, to get the scoop on a beer made with ingredients sourced entirely from North Carolina.

Ivory Tower Brewery is the pilot brewery at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. ASU's fermentation science program is an increasingly popular course of study, allowing future brewers and winemakers to earn a four-year fermentation science degree that will give them a significant leg up when they're ready to enter the industry.

The program recently purchased a 3-barrel brewing system, allowing them to produce upwards of 90 gallons per batch. The plan is to sell the beer produced by the students in order to help fund research and supplies. Unfortunately North Carolina law prohibits the sale of alcohol produced by universities, but they hope that the state will revise its laws so that they can raise money for the program, clear out capacity, and allow the students to gain more experience. The fermentation science program also offers lab services for professional craft brewers to receive analysis on things like IBUs and alcohol content, color, and clarity.

July 11, 2013

This Friday: Tour the NC State Hops Research Yard in Western North Carolina

Image via NC Alternative Crops and Organics
If you missed the Hops Growing in North Carolina workshop this past March, don't despair. The Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station in Mills River, NC, is offering a free, public tour of their hops yard this Friday, July 12th, from 4pm to 6pm.

This is a great opportunity to learn all about the challenges that face a possible hops industry in the Southeast. In case you haven't heard, Sierra Nevada's building a giant brewery down in Mills River, so see below for travel information. There is a suggested donation of $5 per person.

Via the NC Alternative Crops and Organics Blog:

"In direct response to the expressed needs of hops growers in North Carolina, three years ago we established a hops variety trial at the research station in western North Carolina. Ten varieties were planted on a 20 foot trellis. The first year (2011), we had one of the prettiest hop yards in the Southeast. The second year (2012), Downy Mildew, spider mites, and Japanese beetles took a terrible toll on the plants and the differences between varieties really became apparent. We lost one variety completely; Newport. Downy Mildew actually killed the crowns. This spring we took the opportunity to informally test a few new varieties by planting them where the Newport crowns had been planted. This year we have taken a much more aggressive approach to controlling diseases and insects. We have also done some cultural practices, such as spring pruning in an effort to increase lateral formation and yields. 

March 27, 2013

State of the Craft Beer Industry: A Report from CBC13

Happening this week in Washington, DC, is the 2013 Craft Brewers Conference, an annual gathering of craft brewers from around the country hosted by the Brewers Association. The BA is the not-for-profit trade group dedicated to promoting and protecting small and independent craft brewers in the US. While I didn't attend the event, I listened in this morning to the Brewers Association "State of the Craft Brewing Industry" tele-press conference.

Craft Beer is Surging

Paul Gatza, Director of the Brewers Association, opened by talking about general industry trends. Over the past five years, the beer industry as a whole has been contracting, while the craft beer segment has been expanding rapidly at the expense of the large "macro" breweries. We've seen recently that regional craft breweries, such as Green Flash and New Belgium, have decided to build second breweries in other parts of the country to meet high demand and to facilitate the distribution of their products from coast to coast. Gatza speculated that we will see more of these satellite breweries in the months and years to come.

Gatza also mentioned the development of a new Brewers Association website,, designed to help brewers avoid profit loss through lost kegs. There is an estimated cost of $5-15 million when kegs, owned by the breweries who fill them, go missing. (Read the press release here.)

March 18, 2013

A Hops Industry Grows in North Carolina

The hops yard at the
NC Alternative Crops Research Center
On Saturday, March 16th, the NC State Mountain Horticultural Crops Research & Extension Center in Mills River held a workshop entitled “Growing Hops in Western NC.” This was a session to discuss the commercial viability of a local hops economy in our region. With 90+ people in attendance, some coming from as far as Virginia, South Carolina, and Tennessee, it seems that interest in the crop is pretty high.

Jeanine Davis of NC State opened the event by talking about the state of the hops industry. There are many reasons why hops are in high demand:
  • Increasing numbers of craft breweries
  • Increasing interest in homebrewing
  • Increasing demand for organic hops
  • Increasing demand for fresh (a.k.a. “wet”) hops
  • Increasing demand for locally-sourced products
But here’s the big question: Is a hops industry commercially viable in Western North Carolina?