Americans Want More Craft Beer and Wine

tieton-3Today we’d like to share an interesting column by By Fred Tasker  as reported through McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

Americans are continuing their love affair with wine as 2014 arrives, but we may love beer and spirits even more. Here’s what’s trending in drinks:

■ We love wine: We drank more last year for the 19th year in a row — up 2 percent to 360 million 12-bottle cases, according to wine consultants Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates.

■ We love American wine: California makes 58 percent of all the wine we drink.

■ We know what we like: Here’s what we bought in shops and supermarkets: 21 percent chardonnay, 12 percent cabernet sauvignon, 9 percent merlot, 8 percent pinot grigio or pinot gris, 6 percent moscato, 5 percent sweet red wines and 1 percent malbec, according to Nielsen, consumer sales consultants.

■ We’re not spending the farm on wine. Forty-eight percent of all wine purchased in U.S. shops and supermarkets cost $5 to $11; only 4 percent was $20 and over, The Wall Street Journal reported.

■ Wine is still playing catch-up as a national pastime drink. Americans drank $99 billion worth of beer and $69 billion worth of spirits in 2012, but only $37 billion of wine, a Gallup poll said.

■ Craft beer is coming on strong. It rose 15 percent in 2012 while regular beer was up only 1 percent, the Brewers Association said.

■ It’s a battle. Regular beer outsold craft beer 15 bottles to one last year. But overall U.S. per-capita consumption of all beer dropped from 25 gallons in 1981 to 20 gallons in 2012.

■ Spirits, especially expensive ones, are gaining. Irish whiskey grew 18 percent in 2012, Gallup said. Bourbon was up 4.5 percent.

■ In all of our drinks, we’ve taken to heart that old Super Bowl ad in which a fan whined, “I can’t taste my light beer.” Now we’re demanding more flavor.

■ In beer, we seek craft brews with insane amounts of bitter hops. Other flavorful brews include Leinenkugel’s Orange Shandy and MillerCoors’ Redd’s Apple Ale, says Shanken News Daily website. Samuel Adams has released a winter ale called Cold Snap, flavored with anise, hibiscus, orange peel, coriander and dried plums.

■ In wine, an old cliche says people talk dry but drink sweet. It may be true. The fastest growing varieties in 2012 were moscato, usually sweet, up 33 percent, and sweet reds, up 22 percent, Nielsen said.

■ In spirits, Irish whiskeys are growing, in part through pumping up flavors by infusing honey and other flavors, says Impact Databank. Pinnacle’s flavored vodkas rose 14 percent, it said, with offerings like cinnamon vodka, in partnership with Cinnabon.

■ Constellation’s Black Velvet Canadian whisky has a toasted caramel flavor that grew 5 percent in 2012, Shanken said. Crown Royal offers maple flavor, and Brown-Forman added peach and vanilla flavors.

■ Also, Beam Inc. has released a new version of its Courvoisier Cognac blended with red wine, and one blended with moscato, Shanken said.

■ Finally in our search for more flavor, we’re turning to hard cider. The U.S. market’s top 10 cider brands grew by 63 percent in 2012, Shanken says.

Fred Tasler has retired from The Miami Herald but is still writing about wine (fredtaskerwine@gmail.com).

2013 Was The Year For Yakima Valley Hops, Breweries, Distilleries and Wine

New-Years-decorThis has been a great year for the Yakima Valley adult beverage industry. Highlights included:

1. The opening of Bale Breaker Brewering Company, the first and only known brewery in American located in a working hop field! Also new to the scene was Glacier Basin Distillery, which has great plans for their emerging operations at the Gilbert Orchards’ Hackett Ranch.

2. John I. Haas opened its 23,500-square-foot building in August, which includes, a new testing brewery where craft breweries could make beers made with different types of hops. The company’s executives said they built the facility to better respond to the growing craft brewing industry.

3. The launch of our humble yet dedicated Spirits and Hops Trail website (thank you for your support).

4. The October Fresh Hop Ale Festival was the biggest in its 11-year-history. The event took up the entire parking lot near Millennium Plaza and attracted a record 5,000 attendees.

5. Tieton Cider Works continues to grow and flourish and received a lot of publicity in 2013. Check the features and videos on their website.

6. In the wine world, 2013 marked the 30th year since the Yakima Valley became the first American Viticultural Area (AVA) in the Pacific Northwest. Wine Yakima Valley celebrated the occasion with many events and educational programs.

So as New Year’s eve approaches we toast your success, wish all of you the best in 2014 and thank you for all you do for the Yakima Valley. Cheers!

These are heady days for Yakima Valley craft brewers

Yakima Herald‘s business reporter Mai Hoang recently penned a column on the state of the brewery and hops industry in the Yakima Valley, claiming that “…2013 was the year that craft beer gained major traction in a region long known for wine.” We could not agree any more with that!

She offered the following to support that claim:

• In July, the Yakima Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau launched a new website  for the Yakima Valley Spirits and Hops Trail, which highlights the Yakima Valley’s breweries and other specialty alcohol products. Bureau CEO John Cooper said the craft brewing industry reached a critical mass that made the site necessary.

• John I. Haas opened its new 23,500-square-foot building in August, which includes, among other things, a new testing brewery where craft breweries could make beers made with different types of hops. The company’s executives said they built the facility to better respond to the growing craft brewing industry.

• The Fresh Hop Ale Festival, the annual fundraiser for Allied Arts of Yakima Valley, was the biggest in its 11-year-history in October. The event took up the entire parking lot near Millennium Plaza and attracted a record 5,000 attendees.

• Finally, she thinks Yakima Valley now has a mix of craft breweries that would have made Bert Grant (beloved Yakima area craft beer pioneer) proud. Snipes Mountain Brewing Co. in Sunnyside continues to produce beers that show up all over the state. Yakima Craft Brewing Co., which, when it opened in 2008, was the sole brewery within the immediate Yakima area, celebrated five years this year and now seems more like a veteran compared to the slew of breweries popping up nationwide.

Take a look at the full story here.

Bale Breaker Brewery Featured in Draft Magazine

baleBreaker-5Yakima Valley’s very own Bale Breaker Brewing Company has been recognized by Draft Magazine in their Top 25 Beers of 2013 feature. Bale Breaker was signaled out for their Field 41 American Pale Ale. As the magazine stated “With the spotlight fixed on IPAs, American pales are often overlooked, but Field 41—from a brewery literally nestled in a hop field—is no wallflower. Threads of tangerine, passionfruit, grapefruit and pine leap across the tongue; a flawless sweet, grainy malt spine and a powerful hop nose amplify each sip. Easily sessionable at 4.5% ABV, this charming beer cements itself as one of our favorite hoppy beers of the year.”

Draft Magazine is an American publication about beer and beer culture. Published since September 2006, it has a printed circulation of around 180,000.

Congrats to the gang at Bale Breaker. You make the Yakima Valley proud. Be sure to stop by their operation near Moxee for you holiday brews.

Alexander Graham Bell, Hops and the Yakima Valley

john_baule_largeThe creation of the Yakima Valley Spirits and Hops Trail reminded me of the Yakima Valley’s connection with Gardiner Greene Hubbard, the founding president of the National Geographic Society and President of the American Telegraph Company, and his son-in-law, Alexander Graham Bell, who is credited with the successful introduction of the telephone.  Like other investors in the 1880s, Hubbard and Bell saw the Yakima Valley as a new frontier, having just been linked by railroad to markets in the Eastern United States.  In 1884, they established the Moxee Company on land purchased just east of present-day Yakima.  Their intent was to create a model agricultural operation that would attract families to move into the Valley and produce commercially viable crops.  By 1888, the company was raising cattle and had 1,000 acres under cultivation, including 140 acres of barley, 35 acres of hops, 30 acres of wheat, 35 acres of corn, 50 acres of oats, 240 acres of alfalfa, 78 acres in timothy hay, and 25 acres in tobacco.  Hops, tobacco, and sugar beets became the most successful crops.

Tobacco growers from Kentucky were recruited to develop a locally grown leaf that could be hand-rolled into locally-produced cigars; but the combination of disease in the form of a leaf blight and the inexperience of Kentucky farmers in growing irrigated tobacco ended this crop in the Valley.  Sugar beets suffered a similar fate, first through a blight in the period 1910-1920 and then through better production elsewhere in the country.  However, hops have survived, perhaps because the Moxee Company is responsible for encouraging French-Canadian families living in northern Minnesota to move west to the Yakima Valley.  Thirteen families, consisting of 52 individuals, came in 1897, and another wave in 1902.  These families—Gamache, Champoux, Brulotte, LaFramboise, LaBissonaire, Regimbal, Desmarais, Desserault, Beaulaurier, Belair, Morrier, Sauve, Fourtier, Riel, Houle, Patnode, and others—became the core of the Yakima Valley’s hop industry by the 1910s.

Like all industries, however, there have been good and bad times for hops.  One of the more interesting periods was when there was an enormous scare caused by the passage of the Volstead Act in 1919.  The Act prohibited the manufacturing, sale, or transportation of beer and other intoxicating liquors in the United States.  Local bankers, upon whom hop ranchers depended for financing, assumed the brewing industry was dead and refused to lend money.  They would not advance farmers the cash needed to hire labor to pick their crop in the Fall of 1919.  But those farmers who were able to harvest and store their crop were able to cash in on the brand-new demand for hops—the home-brewing industry.  By the early 1920s, hop growers were getting some of the highest returns that they had ever received to date—proving the Volstead Act was not the death blow bankers had projected.  Furthermore, blight in the 1930s on the hops grown on the western side of the Cascades near Puyallup eliminated regional competition.  By this time, however, the Moxee Company had sold most of its holdings to the individual farmer and eventually discontinued business entirely.  However, without the impetus of Gardiner Hubbard and Alexander Graham Bell, it might have taken the hop industry in the Yakima Valley much longer to become established and such an important part of the local economy.

John Baule, Director, Yakima Valley Museum

Bale Breaker Releases HIGH CAMP WINTER WARMER

High Camp Winter WarmerHigh Camp Winter Warmer, the newest seasonal release from Bale Breaker Brewing Company, will be hitting the slopes at White Pass Ski Area this winter, as well as at restaurants and bars in our hometown of Yakima and select locations throughout eastern Washington and northern Idaho.

Having learned to ski at White Pass, the team at Bale Breaker Brewing Company designed this beer with two of their favorite things in mind – skiing and, well, beer.  Additionally, the name is a nod to our taproom’s first employee, who manages High Camp Ski Lodge at White Pass during the winter months.

ABOUT THE BEER:  High Camp Winter Warmer – 8.2% ABV |  70 IBU – Named for the ski lodge atop our local White Pass Ski Resort, High Camp Winter Warmer takes Bale Breaker’s signature hop-forward style to a slightly darker side.   Perfect for the season, this winter beer hits first with a malty backbone of spice and chocolate.  Dry-hopped with Cascade, Centennial, and Mosaic™, the hop character in High Camp bursts with pine and grapefruit.  And at 8.2% ABV, this fireside sipper is sure to warm from the inside out.

On your next trip to White Pass, be sure to stop in for pint at the on-hill ski lodge that this brew was named after!

Website Dedicated to Local Yakima Valley Products Launched

yvMadeScreenShotHomeThe Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau (VCB) has launched a new program just in time for holiday shopping. Yakima Valley Made is a website that provides the public a directory of more than 100 Yakima Valley based farm products, hand crafted consumer goods and local food or beverage products. “With the rise of so many hand crafted artisan goods we saw a need to develop a central source for those products,” stated John Cooper, President & CEO of the VCB. “The site is a work in progress as vendors and locally crafted products are identified and added to the website.”

A number of the products listed on the website are available at the Yakima Valley Visitors Information Center at 101 N. Fair Avenue in Yakima. To view the site visit www.yakimavalleymade.com. Yakima Valley businesses producing locally grown or made items sold directly to consumers that want to be on the website should contact Laura Rodriquez at laura@visityakima.com

Funding for the project came through a grant from HUD Office of University Partnership at Heritage University with technical assistance provided by Yakima County Development Association/New Vision.

Yakima Valley Spirits, Brewery and Wineries featured in Sunset

Grab the November issue of Sunset magazine for some fun reading on the Yakima Valley, including a number of the features along the Spirits and Hops Trail like Bale Breaker Brewing Company and Glacier Basin Distillery.

The opening heading says it all:  “Why You’ll Love the Yakima Valley in Washington: Taste wine on a mountaintop, tour a Prohibition-era hop farm, and eat tacos with the locals in eastern Washington’s agricultural wonderland.”

Read the article for yourself here.

Bale Breaker Brewery Featured in Seattle Magazine

baleBreaker-5Washington state beer guru and writer Kendall Jones penned a piece about our local hop heroes at Bale Baker Brewery for Seattle Magazine. Here’s an excerpt:

“You might not know it, but each year Washington produces approximately 75 percent of the United States’ hops crop and 25 percent of the world’s, and virtually all of our state’s hops are grown in the Yakima Valley by a handful of families that have been doing it for generations. While the family farming tradition continues, some children of the hops have ventured off the farm. But they have not ventured far.

Kevin Smith and Meghann (Smith) Quinn didn’t even leave the family farm to open their brewery; the siblings built Bale Breaker Brewing, which opened in April, in Field 41, right in the middle of the family’s hop fields just a few miles east of Yakima on State Route 24 (Meghann’s husband, Kevin Quinn, is in charge of sales). Mike Smith, the patriarch of the family, tells us that his eldest son, Patrick, will take over the family’s farm someday, and he glows with pride when he talks about what his other two children have brewing.”

Want to read more? Here’s the full online story. Congratulations Bale Breaker! Happy brewing.

Fresh Hop Ale Festival is Coming!

hop dudesWhile the sun shines bright and it’s still very warm in the day, the nights are cooler and a feeling of fall is in the air.  It’s harvest time in the Yakima Valley. One great way to celebrate the end of the hop harvest is the 11th Annual Allied Arts Fresh Hop Ale Festival Saturday, October 5th in downtown Yakima.

The event features more than 30 breweries, 16 food vendors, five local wineries and two amazing bands (Imagine the Giants and The True Spokes). The celebration showcases beers produced with fresh, Yakima Valley hops. To qualify for the festival and be considered a “fresh hop ale” the beers must be produced with Yakima Valley hops that have moved from bine to vat in 24 hours.

Pre-sale ($30) tickets are on sale at local businesses around the Valley during regular business hours through 5pm on Friday October 4th.  Locations: Bob’s Keg and Cork, Yakima Sports Center, Red Lion Hotel, Hilton Garden Inn, Off the Record, The Deep Sea Deli, The Beer Shoppe, Yakima Craft Brewing Co., Bale Breaker Brewing Co., Sporthaus, Berts Pub, Gilbert Cellars, West Valley Bar & Grill, Holiday Inn or at Allied Arts of Yakima Valley.  Plenty of tickets will also be available for $35 at the gate.

Ticket price includes a commemorative beer glass and $7 scrip (used instead of cash for beer and wine. Cash only for food purchases). ID is required for everyone, from 21 to 91!

This year organizers have paired with the Pirate Plunder Race so that it’s a day packed with fun. Come do the adventure race Saturday morning or afternoon,  then join the Fresh Hop festivities that evening to quench your thirst and celebrate completing the course!  Make it a weekend of fun by staying over Friday and Saturday nights. To book your hotel or B&B room visit our lodging site.

See you there!