The craft beer industry helps to push hop and barley production, but there are a ton of other crops that are influential and really add the extra flavor flair of the industry today. We’re talking stuff like blueberries, cucumbers, ginger, honey, peaches, peppers, persimmons, rice, watermelons, etc. The goal is obviously to get those ingredients locally, which will both make for a better beer and a better story.
According to this cool story on The Produce News, growers in South Carolina are taking note of this need of the growing craft beer community in their backyard and starting to form partnerships with craft brewers and wineries for some of the state’s leading fruit and vegetable crops and expanding sales while making their value-added products available year-round.
Craft breweries have expanded in South Carolina over the past two years. Until 2012, the Palmetto State had just seven breweries; the oldest, Palmetto Brewing Co. in Charleston, dated back to 1993. Then came changes in the laws, and there were 45 craft brewers in operation in 2014. North Carolina, by contrast, with more welcoming laws, had 120 breweries and brewpubs in 2014.
”We are so excited about the farm-to-barrel movement,” said Angela O’Neal, president of Coosaw Farms in Fairfax. “When Island Winery tasted the first of the fruit wine made from our blueberries, they said it was the best blueberry wine they’ve ever crafted. We truly believe it has something to do with the fact we’re only an hour down the road. Likewise,” she said in an interview Oct. 20, “we were thrilled with Walt Trifari’s wheat ale over at Southern Barrel that included some of our berries.”
The breweries are collaborating with these farmers to source some great ingredients and further develop interesting, new beers. Be sure to read the whole story for a rundown of some of the best examples of this relationship.