The research station's aim is to provide useful information to local brewers, Western North Carolina hops growers, those interested in becoming hops growers and folks just plain interested in hops. Researchers will show off the trellis system and describe their construction methods. There are 10 varieties of the plants in production that visitors can check out. Visitors will also hear about some of the issues related to growing hops in WNC, including diseases, insects, weeds and marketing. Growers from the Eastern Hops Guild (http://www.easternhopsguild.blogspot.com) will be present to share some of their experiences too.
There might be a nominal fee to offset the costs of putting on the event, so please bring a little cash, say organizers (the state budget has cut funding for many programs at the Research Station, and donations are being accepted). For more information and directions, visit http://www.ncagr.gov/research.
Afterwards, drive over to Echoview Farm, where hops lovers can taste locally brewed beers made from the farm's hops, listen to tunes from bluegrass band High Windy, and tour one of the region's largest hops yards to check out nine varieties of the flowering vine.
Entry costs $10 per person and includes lunch, tastes of local brews and an Echoview tasting glass. This celebration is limited to 500 people; so pre-registration is encouraged at www.echoviewfarm.com or on the farm's Facebook page.
Growing nine different varieties of hops, farm proprietor Julie Jensen has created rows of tall trellises for the 1,800 bines that produce Echoview's annual yields. At harvest, hops are sent to Asheville-area microbreweries. To take hops from bine to brewery even more efficiently, Echoview is building an oast—a kiln for drying hops.
Have fun hopping it up this weekend, hopheads. For a whole bunch of fun facts about hops, check out next week's Brews News on www.mountainx.com.