Raleigh, N.C. — This week marks the grand opening of another local Triangle brewery – BlackJack Brewing in Raleigh.
The secret to brewing a good beer is knowing what you’re doing and having quality ingredients, according to Brooks Hamaker of BlackJack Brewing.
“Hops are very, very important, and depending on the kind of beer you’re making, they can be more important,” Hamaker said. “Hops are one of the major ingredients for beers; they’re part of bittering the beer.”
Dan Gridley of Farm Boy Farms is now in his sixth year growing hops.
“We can’t grow enough,” Gridley said. “No one can grow enough.”
Gridley said much of the growing process is still experimental. North Carolina hop growers are still working to figure out what grows well in the area.
Until recently, brewers turned to the Pacific Northwest for hops.
“Hops grown here [in North Carolina] are going to taste a little different just based on the soil and growing condition,” Gridley said. “The aromatic characteristics are going to be comparable.”
The hops are usually harvested in late July, but this year Gridley calling it an anomaly.
“This has been a bad year,” Gridley said “We had a very wet, cloudy gray May and a scorcher of a June.”
The idea that North Carolina brewers could be known for beers made completely in-state, keeps Gridley focused on the long-term goal.
Gridley said the next step would be figuring out a way to dry and preserve local hops so brewers have more time to use it.