Hops isn't exactly easy to grow in the red clay and heat of North Carolina. But IndyWeek.com offers a good bit of information about the state of the state's potential as a hops producer.
The growing popularity of locally brewed beers has sparked some success for niche growers:
"Hops grow best in the cool climes of the northern latitudes, where they take root in black loam and bask in summer daylight that can last as long as 16 hours: England, Germany, the Pacific Northwest. In other words, not Central North Carolina, with its unforgiving clay, hot and humid summers, warm winters and, because we are farther south, shorter day length during the prime growing season.
But North Carolina brewers, growers, researchers and beer drinkers agree that with the right hops variety, one grown to tolerate less sunlight, along with investments in farm machinery and processing centers, hops could be a robust niche industry in this region and in the mountains, where there are fledgling hops farms.
"It's not going to replace Christmas trees or tobacco," says (N.C. State Extension Associate Scott) King, who works in the department of soil science. "But with the explosion of the microbreweries in North Carolina, there's a demand for it. We can't fill the demand."