Grow Hops Like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson

WARREN COUNTY, Va. - Every year Sunflower Cottage, an herb farm in Warren County, tries something new with their produce.

"One year we did a cooking workshop, cooking with fresh herbs,” said Billie Clifton, who owns Sunflower Cottage with her husband. “Another year we did essential oils."

Their land was once used to grow grapes, which helped spark this year's idea

"Hops are herbs to start with. They are the herb that flavors beer. And we're an herb farm,” said Clifton. “We decided that we would plant a hops farm, which we did, a year and a half ago. We got a wonderful harvest off the hops field last August and began to brew beer.

Since February, Sunflower Cottage’s Backroom Brewery has made 11 beers, including fan favorites like the Lemon Basil Wheat Beer and the Backroom Blonde.

"We’re the only farm brewery in the Northern Shenandoah Valley," said Clifton.

Which means they're the only ones around who grow their own brewing supplies. Sunflower Cottage also host an annual Herb Festival, and has decided to make hops this year's theme.

"Since the Virginia Herb Festival coincides with the opening of our brewery, we're going to be featuring our hops,” said Clifton. “[We’ll have] programs on growing hops, and our beer. And people can actually take a peak inside the brewery and learn the process of brewing beer."

Attendees will learn how to follow in the steps of famous Virginia hops growers, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

"There’s a hop shortage across this country and we really want to interest people in growing hops on their property so they can sell those hops to craft breweries," said Clifton

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