POLITICS

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell joins craft brewing movement

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Yeas and Nays,Politics,Virginia,Food and Drink,Alicia M. Cohn

Virginia's craft brewers have an ally in Gov. Bob McDonnell, who will soon be contributing his own hops to the growing industry. McDonnell planted a total of about 15 hops vines on the grounds of the governor's Richmond mansion Monday and expects a harvest from the 2-year-old cascade vines this August.

"Virginia was once a hotbed of hops production," Todd Haymore, Virginia's secretary of agriculture and forestry, told Yeas & Nays, citing Thomas Jefferson and George Washington as past growers. "We're coming back around to our history."

The new vines join the wine grapes that McDonnell planted on the mansion's grounds two years ago, which produced wine that has been aging in barrels since late 2012. This summer will see the first release of wine made partially from mansion grapes. Haymore is also optimistic for a "mansion beer."

"The craft brew industry is really, really growing, and we wanted to do something here at the governor's mansion similar to what we did with the wine industry," Haymore told us. "The ultimate end game for us, to help promote the industry further, is to harvest the hops, turn them over to a craft brewery and potentially make some sort of a commemorative beer, craft beer to highlight the industry but also recognize the 200th anniversary of the Executive Mansion [this year]."

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