The state of Virginia and Loudoun County are together awarding $80,000 in grants to aid an effort to build the Mid-Atlantic region’s first ever commercial-scale hops processing facility.
Black Hops Farm LLC will itself invest $1 million to convert a 15-acre pasture in Leesburg into the state’s largest hops yard to operate in conjunction with the processing plant. The plant would enable existing Virginia hops growers to expand production while removing entry-level barriers facing new producers.
Lucketts Mill Hopworks, as the new venture is called, is expecting to create 11 new jobs and source more than 60 percent of its hops (3,500 pounds) from Virginia over the next three years.
In a news release, Gov. Terry McAuliffe called the investment being made by Black Hops Farm “important” to the continued growth of the craft beer sector in the state.
“This is a significant win for the Commonwealth as it fills a critical need for current and future craft brewers and builds on my administration’s efforts to increase Virginia’s position in the fast growing craft beer industry,” he said. “This entrepreneurial venture is an excellent example of the important role that our diverse agricultural industry can and will play in my economic development strategic plan to build a New Virginia Economy.”
Gov. McAuliffe approved a $40,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund (AFID), an amount matched by Loudoun County’s own investment.
While 15 acres may seem small, the farm will represent dramatic growth for hops production in the state, which strung only 25 acres for harvest in 2014, according to Hop Growers of America. Those figures are in stark contrast with the flourishing industries in the northwest, as Idaho, Oregon, and Washington strung approximately 3,800, 5,500, and 29,000 acres respectively in 2014.
Still, the project has Black Hops Farm co-founder Jonathan Staples hopeful they can turn Virginia into a hops industry stalwart on this side of the country.
“With so many farmers already growing hops across the state, we’re hoping that we can play a part in making Virginia the hops capital of the East Coast,” he said in a news release. “The Governor’s leading role in projects as large as Stone in Richmond, to our facility in Lucketts, makes clear to us that the state is committed to being a major player in the beer and spirits world and has allowed us to accelerate this project by several years.”
Gov. McAuliffe approved a $250,000 grant from the AFID last month to go toward Stone Brewing’s effort to build a production facility in Richmond, on top of other grants and bonds from the city and state, which ultimately topped $30 million.