US hops are typically grown in Washington and California, as well as a handful of other states with warm weather and low humidity, but these are by no means the only areas where you can successfully grow hops. Hops can grow on the east cost just as they grow on the west coast. You have to deal with a few more risk factors, like the high humidity that can breed diseases such as powdery mildew.
Hops will grow in USDA Zones 5 to 9. For those who don’t know where this is, these zones stretch from roughly Maryland to Florida on the east cost.
There has actually been a lot of press about commercial hop farming moving into western North Carolina! NC State scientists received a $28,000 grant to plant and study hop growing in Raleigh, near Lake Wheeler.
What Varieties of Hops Grow in North Carolina
Now that we know that hops can grow in North Carolina, you may be wondering what types of hops to plant. You can plant a variety, but certain hop types will be more susceptible to certain diseases and pests.
My recommendation for what types of hops to grow without having to work to hard to reduce disease and pests would be the following:
Cascade: These are high-yielding hop that are very tolerant to Downy Mildew, which is a plus in the humid, wet NC summers. It is also a very popular hop used in many types of brews. Both Big Boss Brewery and Red Oak are growing their own cascade hops here in NC!
Chinook: Another hop variety that produces a good yield and is moderately tolerant to downy mildew. They also store well and are very tolerant to insects.
Newport: A newer and less-common hop, but is high-yielding and super-tolerant to most diseases, including powdery mildew
Magnum: If you want LOTS of bitterness and high alpha-acid, this would be a good choice. It too has good storage stability and resistance to wilt and Downy Mildew.
Nugget: This is becoming a very popular US hop with lots of growers out west. It is very high-yielding, has good storage capability and is very disease resistant. This was also the first hop variety I planted and saw a great amount of success here in NC in just the first year!
For more information on hop varieties, check out this chart at Fresh Hops.
The real question is which hops do you most enjoy in your beer, because if you grow what you like and use, then it will be worth it. If you grow a hop simply because it is easy to grow, but you don’t like it in your beer, then you certainly won’t get as much use or enjoyment out of it.
Also, check out this great picture of the Big Boss Brewery in Raleigh and all of their hops they have growing right outside their door, literally!
Let me know if you have had success in NC with any other hop varieties, or if any have failed. I’m curious to know what else people have tried.