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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Adjunct Professor Herbert Bruce stirs a batch of suds with students in the brewhouse at Virginia Tech’s Human and Agricultural Biosciences Building 1.
BLACKSBURG, Va., Feb. 18, 2016 – Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has long been a steward of the commonwealth’s wine industry through oenology and viticulture research and outreach efforts.
Now, the advent of a state-of-the-art shiny, new brewhouse and malting system will allow the university to shepherd along beer research as well. The newly installed system allows students to learn the latest in malting, brewing, and fermenation techniques, while faculty further the university’s land-grant mission by supporting industry research in fermentation and brewing.
The recently installed 2.5 hectoliter, professional-grade Esau & Hueber system was designed for research on brewing ingredients, process parameters, outcomes, and innovations. Regional breweries may also develop new varieties of ales and lagers while researching new, locally sourced ingredients without having to take their own facilities off-line. The facility, which can produce 66 gallons of beer per batch, is very similar to the ones used in commercial craft brewing operations around the U.S. The brewhouse is optimized for teaching and research, so some of the processes are not as automated as commercial breweries may be.
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