While the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has long been a steward of viniculture in the commonwealth, the advent of a state-of-the-art brewhouse and malting system at Human and Agricultural Biosciences Building 1 now allows the college to shepherd fermentation research for another lucrative market — craft beer.
A student spoons spent grain from the brewhouse container into a trash can while classmates look on. The professional-grade brewhouse is similar to what most craft-beer-making facilities use, but it is optimized for teaching.
The recently installed system lets students learn the latest in malting, brewing, and fermenting techniques and simultaneously fosters the university’s land-grant mission by supporting industry research in fermentation and brewing among faculty members. The announcement by Deschutes Brewery that it will anchor its East Coast location in Roanoke means the facility at Virginia Tech will also likely be integral to building industry partnerships between the university and commercial brewers.
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With more than 100 craft breweries, Virginia is quickly emerging as a significant player in the East Coast beer scene. Membership in the Old Dominion Hops Cooperative has grown from about 20 members to more than 80 over the past two years.
The burgeoning craft beer industry supports more than 8,000 jobs in the commonwealth and has a $623 million economic impact on the state, according to the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild.
And Virginia Tech is helping the commonwealth dive into the suds business. The university is currently conducting two studies — one examines the fermentation of hops, and the other studies the crop itself.
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Beer brewers, hop growers, and everybody in between is invited to attend the 2016 South Atlantic Hops Conference to be held March 4-5 in Richmond, Virginia, at the Clarion Hotel Richmond Central.
Hops are gaining popularity as a niche market crop that could be cultivated to support the burgeoning craft beer industry in the commonwealth.
This year’s expanded conference is a collaboration of faculty from Virginia Tech, North Carolina State University, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia State University, and grower members of Old Dominion Hops Cooperative.
The event is a prime opportunity for beginner and experienced hop growers alike to learn and network. Associated industry stakeholders are also encouraged to attend. Registration and tickets for the event can be found on the conference’s website.
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