Living at Ground Zero in the U.S. Beer World

IMG_3209I will never forget a night when I first moved to Yakima in the winter of 2007.  It was a cold clear night and a million stars could be seen across the Valley sky. I was leaving Bob’s Keg and Cork on North Front Street after a few IPAs. As I walked outside, I was met with the strong pungent aroma of hops from one of the nearby hop processors in downtown Yakima. As I walked home, it was amazing, the whole downtown smelled like hops. It was at that moment I realized that I was living in the hop capital of the United States.

Before moving to Yakima, I was a beer tourist (I still am). If I was in Vermont, I’d head to Long Trail Brewery. When I was in Montana I’d go to Big Sky Brewing Company or if I was in Colorado I’d head to Breckinridge Brewing Company. Now, I live at ground zero.

Yakima is a great place to have a beer. Of all the things that make the Valley unique, I’d have to say it’s the people that make us stand out . You’ll be sure to meet some of the finest people at one of our breweries or brew pubs. It’s an authentic experience. At Bob’s Keg and Cork or the Sports Center, don’t be surprised to find yourself having a beer with one of our judges, farmers or other folks that make this town great. The conversation can be spirited and fun.

In the months to come, follow this blog and learn more about all the ways that the Yakima Valley is the hop capital of the United States.

Sean Hawkins
Economic Development Manager
City of Yakima


Moxee Hops Festival a Valley Tradition

87b465950f5ab121d7e68f816e494be0When in hop country, celebrate! Each August, the community of Moxee Washington celebrates its agricultural heritage with the annual Hops Festival.  Staged by the East Valley Community Enhancement Association, City of Moxee and numerous sponsors, this event has been going on for 66 years.

What started out as a fund raiser for a community pool, the event has grown to be the signature celebration for Moxee. The festival has food and craft vendors, games for kids,  5K fun run and walk, parade, farm equipment displays, a beer garden (of course!) and great regional entertainment.

This year’s festival runs August 2 and 3rd. For all the details check their website.

The profits from the Hop Festival support local events, scholarships and other community building projects. Want to know more? Here’s a brief history.

For more information on the Yakima Valley hop industry, craft breweries, cideries and distilleries visit the Spirits and Hops Trail website.

Craft Beers and Ciders at Wineries? Why not!

tieton-3There’s an old saying in the wine industry that it takes a lot of good beer to make great wine. Whether or not that is true, more Yakima Valley wineries are adding local craft beers and ciders to their offerings. It’s a welcome addition on these warm summer days here in Washington wine country.

Here are a few local wineries that have these cool frothy offerings and other adult beverages*:

GILBERT CELLARS in downtown Yakima: Last Friday I stopped by for some live music at Gilbert and was pleased to see they had ciders  from Tieton Cider Works and cold cans of Bale Breaker Brewing Company beer. Last May they hosted the debut of Glacier Basin Distillery brandy at their Cave operation, so maybe more will be in store with them at future Gilbert Cellars events.

NACHES HEIGHTS VINEYARDS  alternates between two local breweries at this time: Bale Breaker and Yakima Craft Brewing Company beers.

TASTING ROOM YAKIMA in Naches Heights is proudly serving Tieton Cider Works, Bale Breaker and Yakima Craft products.

MOJAVE at Desert Wind Winery in Prosser features local crafted beers.

So come visit us along the Spirits and Hops Trail and enjoy some wine, beer and cider!

If you come across any other Yakima Valley wineries that are regularly serving local craft beverages, let us know! We’ll add them to this blog. Email to

*Naturally the selection and offerings are subject to change, so check with the winery for updates. Enjoy!

A brewery on a hop farm?


Meghann Quinn

Wouldn’t it be cool to have a brewery on a hop farm? Well, that’s what we thought, anyway.

Bale Breaker Brewing Company is the newest craft brewery to open in the heart of our nation’s hop country, but while the brewery is new on the scene, the family behind the beer is not.  Our great-grandparents first planted hops in the Yakima Valley in 1932, the year before Prohibition ended.  Now, 81 years later, our love of hops and passion for craft beer has led us to where we are today – having recently opened a production brewery surrounded by our family’s hop fields, just down the road from where we were born and raised.

Our family’s farm, B.T. Loftus Ranches, is one of the longest running hop farms in the Yakima Valley. In 1920, our family moved to Moxee in pursuit of work on the railroad and began farming a variety of crops and livestock. Twelve years later, the first five-acre hop field was established.  Now, we are in our fourth-generation of family ownership, harvesting close to 900 acres of hops each year.

In April 2013, we opened the doors to Bale Breaker Brewing Company, a 30-barrel production brewery surrounded on three sides by the Cascade hops in Field #41. The building houses an onsite taproom (no food service, outside food welcome) with a beautiful outdoor patio and lawn area, perfect for enjoying the Yakima sunshine.  Our flagship beers, Field 41 Pale Ale and Topcutter IPA, can be found on tap and in cans around our hometown of Yakima and throughout much of eastern Washington and northern Idaho.

For more on our brewery, please visit our website at  We hope you can come visit us in the taproom soon!


The Bale Breaker Team – Meghann & Kevin Quinn, Kevin Smith, and Patrick Smith

For more information on the Yakima Valley hop industry, craft breweries, cideries and distilleries visit the Spirits and Hops Trail website.

Fields to Face: Hops Soothe, Protect & Revitalize

NinaGUEST BLOGGER:  Nina Ummel, Ummelina Spa

I am a farm girl from Indiana and had never seen hop fields before. And WOW – they are really fascinating! I love the long rows of this beautiful vine climbing up to the top of the twine.  The delightful yellow-green cone shaped flower clusters hang among the dark green, heart-shaped leaves with finely toothed edges.  Only the female hops and flowers are used for medicinal purposes.  Learning about hops from field to your skin is best done right here in the Yakima Valley!  Come tour the hops, drink the brew and experience the hops cleansing power to soothe, protect and revitalize your skin at Ummelina.  A “Revive Facial” is our ritual utilizing products with hop extract. Or just drop in and we will give you a complimentary facial cleansing in our Global Remedies Store.  If you would like multiple services utlizing the benefits of Yakima Hops, call to schedule the “Yakima Hops Journey.”

Look for our new Organic Hops Herbal Tea arriving soon from our Tea Spa…wonderful for stress, anxiety and a good night’s sleep.  It helps with menopause and PMS symptoms, good diuretic with anti-inflammatory ability for arthritis, plus soothes the GI tract.  And I will blend it to taste great too. Now that sounds like the cup of tea we all need!

Find out more at  Ummelina Yakima Valley Spa Retreat

Welcome to the Spirits & Hops Trail

BLOGGER: John Cooper, President & CEO

I’m excited to introduce you to our new website and marketing effort, the Spirits and Hops Trail.

So why did we create the site? The easy answer is why not? We have lots to brag about when it comes to adult beverages. Of course everyone knows the Valley is a top destination in Washington state for wine production and wineries. The Yakima Valley American Viticulture Area (AVA) is now 30 years old, we have more than 100 wineries open to the public and we produce nearly half of the wine grapes in the state. What folks may not know is that the Yakima Valley is the powerhouse in the hops world and an emerging destination for craft beers, cider and distilled beverages.

As for hops, think about this. No matter where you order a beer in the U.S., whether locally brewed or one of the big brands, there’s a 78% chance that the hops used for that frothy brew came from the Yakima Valley. Staggering but true. Our Valley is the second largest producer of hops IN THE WORLD, just behind Germany. Now there’s bragging rights!

So we developed this effort to let you know of the bounty we have here stemming from the hop industry, locally crafted ciders, beers and distilled drinks. The website and blog are also great ways for us to share the stories of the people and businesses that bring you these great products and share the latest ‘news and brews’. I invite you to come over to the Yakima Valley and join in the fun. Cheers!

Yakima Valley Tourism
10 N 8th Street
Yakima, WA 98901