3rd Annual South Atlantic Hops Conference Review
Blacksburg, VA – People interested in all things hops came from all over the eastern coast of the United States as well as from Michigan, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Colorado to the 3rd Annual South Atlantic Hop Conference at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. The two-day conference held at Skelton Inn and Conference Center at Virginia Tech, covered topics such as marketing, processing, food and safety, pest management, as well as understanding brewing essentials, and featured guest speakers, researchers, experienced growers from all over the country. A highlight of the conference was the Interactive Display Room where Virginia Tech Extension agents shared their knowledge and experience with hops by setting up stations for pest identification, watering guidelines, as well as a smell station and a live plant display. Visitors left with a Hop Scouting Pocket Guide geared for the northern United States.
The first day of the conference began with check-in where guest picked up their name tags and were greeted with coffee and refreshments. The nearly 300 attendees were also able to visit vendors and exhibitors, representing companies providing service for many of the activities associated with hop production such as harvesting and trellis construction supplies. The conference was divided into a Beginner & Exploratory Grower Track and an Experienced Grower Track, allowing attendees to find information better suited towards their experience.
Lunch, with vegan options, provided by conference sponsors, was time enough for attendees from all over the US to meet one another, to learn of each other’s operation, and to share tips and ideas amongst each other. Lunch was followed up by keynote speakers, a brewer and grower panel discussion, and finally, Hoppy Hour, a networking event provided by conference sponsors, where attendees and vendors shared beers from local breweries brewed with locally grown Virginia hops.
Day two, beginning also with coffee and light refreshments, allowed attendees to choose one of four 2-hour sessions covering marketing, food safety, pest management, and brewing science. After a deliciously filling sponsor provided lunch, attendees were again open to choose from 2-hour sessions, this time covering root zone management, mechanization and processing, farm brewery tours, and a repeat of the popular and well-attended brewing science track.
The conference ended at the beautiful Sinkland Farms Brewery in Christiansburg, Virginia where attendees were treated as VIPs. Inside the refurbished barn, strung lights hung from rafters to provide ambiance, firepits throughout the brewery kept the warmth, and a live band got the party jamming as attendees and locals sang along while enjoying freshly brewed beers ranging from stouts, pilsners, to double IPAs.
Last year, the conference was held in Asheville, North Carolina and prior to that Raleigh, North Carolina. Florida Hops, LLC is planning to hold a similar event in Orlando, The Southern Hops Conference, to showcase the unique production practices of Florida’s newest and most popular industry, research and findings from industry leaders in the southern United States, beers brewed with Florida grown hops, as well as the incredibly supportive, innovative, and highly ranked Florida brewing industry. For sponsorship, exhibitor, and vendor opportunities contact Richard M. Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org).