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Hopes for Hops Farming Brewing in Loudoun


zoning or specific soil type, and calculate acreage or distance by using the measurement tool. There’s also an “info” button with links to other sites of interest, such as the Loudoun County Parcel Assessment Database and the Old Dominion Hops Cooperative. The Virginia Cooperative Extension office in Loudoun and the Loudoun County Office of Mapping and Geographic Information collaborated on the tool,

L i f e

lack Hops Farm north of Lucketts has been a busy place in recent weeks. In early June, a group of area landowners spent much of the day gathering expert advice about hops farming while a crew laid out the first 5,300 hops plants to be grown on the property. Days later, plans to open a farm brewery on the 53-acre property took a big step forward with the arrival of flatbed tractor-trailers carrying tanks and other equipment needed for the operation. The action comes just weeks after Flying Dog Brewery announced it was pulling out of the Loudoun project. That decision has had little impact on Black Hops Farm owner Jonathan Staples’ plan to build an important piece of brewing infrastructure and a showcase for Virginia’s burgeoning beer industry. Last November, Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced plans to establish the region’s first hops processing plant on the property. Staples also has teamed up with Organarchy Hops to grow hops on the farm and is converting an indoor riding arena into a pub that will allow customers to watch the hops drying process and brewers at work—and on some nights catch a concert— from their seats. And rather than have Flying Dog’s brewers on site,

there’s talk of inviting international brew masters to share their recipes at the facility. Meanwhile, in its effort to promote the development of a new cash crop for rural landowners and to boost the local craft-beer industry, the county government has created an online tool to help landowners know if their property is well- suited for growing hops. Since Gov. McAuliffe’s announcement last fall of plans to build the region’s first hops processing plant, hopyards have been sprouting on farms around the county. The governor has identified the growth of the craft beer industry as an important growth opportunity for the state’s economy. The Suitability Model for Growing Hops, found online at hopsmap, assesses soils, slope and sunlight features of all land within the county and classifies parcels from the most suitable to growing hops to the least. Users can search for property by address or parcel identification number, click the map for a variety of additional information such as

M i d d l e b u r g

By Norman Styer For Middleburg Life


using data from a variety of resources. For more information about growing hops in Loudoun, contact Beth Sastre at the Virginia Cooperative Extension office at 703-7378978, or at n

Leesburg Today/Norman K. Styer

Top right, Loudoun’s Agricultural Development Officer Kellie Boles, front, pitches in to help plant the first hops at Black Hops Farm. The 5,300 plants, transported from a Michigan nursery, represent only the first installment of a planned 5-acre hops field on the property. At left, hops guru Solomon Rose (right), of Lucketts Mill & Hopworks, offers advice on growing the bitter beer ingredient to a group of area property owners invited to Black Hops Farm to learn about the business.The region’s first hops processing facility is being built on the farm and growers within a two-hour trip could benefit.

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