Congressman Newhouse Congratulates Yakima Valley for Award

Now this is cool. Last Friday, U.S. RepresentativeSmall Rep. Dan Newhouse Dan Newhouse from Washington’s 4th District recognized the Yakima Valley craft beer and hop industry for getting the World Food Travel Association’s 2017 FoodTrekking Award for Best Beer Experience.  He did his during a session of the House of Representatives in the U.S. Capitol.  Mr. Newhouse is not only our local congressman, he’s also a long time farmer from Sunnyside. The Newhouse family operate a 600-acre farm where they grow tree fruit, grapes and yes, hops.  Watch Congressman Newhouse’s short speech here.

 

Things have been hopping in the Yakima Valley!

Okay, sorry for the pun, but it’s true! Like the bines in the fields, the Yakima Valley beer and hop scene has been sprouting new success everywhere you look.  Yakima Valley Tourism has been in the thick of it with our beer and craft beverage marketing and media relations efforts. A quick recap of what’s been going on since last summer.

First off, the region welcomed new breweries and tap rooms this past year. Redifer Brewing Co. in downtown Yakima opened just this month. Cowiche Creek Brewing opened doors near Tieton in mid-April and earlier Berchman’s Brewing opened their tap room on North Front Street downtown. The space Berchman is in has a strong brewing history: It was home to North Yakima Brewing & Malting, which was owned by the family of Berchman’s co-owner Laurie Robinson. Likewise, the space housed Grant’s Brewery Pub before it was relocated to the train depot. Ten years ago there was just two breweries in the Yakima Valley: Snipes Mountain and Witstran Brewing. Today there are ten commercial breweries (plus a number of nanobreweries) with more in the works or close to opening.

Meanwhile, existing breweries continued to flex their muscles and expand their products. For example, Bale Breaker Brewing Co. completed an expansion that will grow their capacity while allowing them to introduce experimental beers. They were invited to be part of a team of brewers to create a beer for Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Across America program.

Hop production last year continued to sky rocket. In 2016, there were 37,444 acres of hops harvested in the Yakima Valley, a 30% increase from 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As you know, the Valley is the nation’s largest hop producer, with 75% of all hops grown in America coming from our fields.

On the food front, after a labor of love and patience, our friends at HopTown Pizza opened a storefront at the old mercantile store in the Piety Flats region of I-82. Just take exit I-82 Exit 44 and head North towards the gas station.

To build on and encourage the momentum, Yakima Valley Tourism has dedicated a number of projects to promote the Yakima Valley as a beer and hop destination.

Our marketing campaigns have a strong “come to the source” angle. We’re encouraging visitors to come see, experience and taste where their food and beverages are grown and made. One angle of the campaign has focused heavily on the hop industry, because if it were not for the hops the Valley grows, there really wouldn’t be the craft beer scene in the U.S. Nowhere else in the nation can you see, smell and ‘feel’ the hop culture better than the Yakima Valley.  We updated our website to make it easier to get hop and beer info, maps and events.

In February Yakima Valley Tourism was a major sponsor at the Seattle Wine & Food Experience as the Featured Tourism Region. We brought 15 of our wine, craft beverage and restaurant members to show off our food and beverage scene. More than 2,500 craft beverage lovers sipped and sampled their way through our huge booth, which included a mock hop field. Prior to the show there was a media preview with dozens of Seattle metro media to meet and pitch story ideas.

In March I attended the inaugural Beer Tourism and Marketing Conference in Asheville, North Carolina. I  joined colleagues from towns across the country on a panel to discuss our local beer scenes and marketing.  It was great to attend a convention where I did not have to explain where the Yakima Valley was located.  Most attendees not only knew of the Valley, many had been here before. One guy even referred to his trip here as “a journey to hop Mecca.”

In April, The World Food Travel Association (WFTA) recognized the Yakima Valley Tuesday with the 2017 FoodTrekking award for Best Beer Experience. Yakima Valley Tourism nominated the Valley for the recognition.  According to WFTA, the FoodTrekking awards recognize worldwide excellence in food and beverage tourism in eight categories.  WFTA is a non-profit organization recognized as the world’s leading authority on food tourism. Its mission is to drive economic development for the food, drink, travel and hospitality trade. The Association was founded in 2003 and brings food tourism information and opportunities to 35,000 industry professionals in 139 countries.

Our work continues this summer. Through a partnership with the Washington Beer Commission, we’re exhibiting at their beer festivals around the state. Replicating a hop field with plastic hop bines and wooden poles, our “selfie” booth informs attendees about where their beer comes plus welcomes them to visit the Valley.

Throughout the past year we’ve hosted numerous beer writers and bloggers, sharing with them the stories of the hop industry, the families behind the beer scene and the overall bounty of the Valley. Take a peek at the many beer focused features the Valley has received this year.  During the Fresh Hop Ale Festival beer week in September we’ll be hosting top level beer writers to the Valley, so watch for more features down the road.

Have a great summer and be sure to enjoy some fresh locally gown beers!

John Cooper

Yakima Valley Awarded “Best Beer Experience” Award

AWA2017_854The World Food Travel Association (WFTA) recognized the Yakima Valley recently with the 2017 FoodTrekking award for Best Beer Experience. Yakima Valley Tourism, which nominated the Valley for the recognition, was on hand to accept the award at the FoodTrekking World Conference earlier this spring.

According to WFTA, the FoodTrekking awards recognize worldwide excellence in food and beverage tourism in 13 categories. “We’re excited the Yakima Valley was selected for this international award,” stated John Cooper, President & CEO of Yakima Valley Tourism. “The local craft brewers and hop growers get the credit. It’s their stories and products, coupled with our overall hospitality industry, that make our region a unique beer destination.”

WFTA is a non-profit organization recognized as the world’s leading authority on food tourism. Its mission is to drive economic development for the food, drink, travel and hospitality trade. The Association was founded in 2003 and brings food tourism information and opportunities to 35,000 industry professionals in 139 countries.

Yakima Valley Beer and Craft Beverage Festivals This Fall

It’s fall and that means the harvest is in full swing in the Yakima Valley. And where there’s a harvest there’s a festival or two, including ones that celebrate our beers, ciders and distilled products along the Spirits and Hops Trail.

So here’s a brief run down of a few coming up:

AOT_YAKIMA_DIGILATERAL_504-x-504America on Tap is coming to Downtown Yakima on Saturday, September 12th from 2pm-5pm. This three hour premium event will showcase over 100 releases from some of America’s best craft breweries including a number of local breweries. Attendees will sample beers in an atmosphere filled with live music, delicious food available for purchase, and great vendors. Participants must be at least 21 years of age to attend. Standard Tickets are $35 per person in advance and $45 at the door. For more information visit America On Tap Yakimaindex

The 13th annual Fresh Hop Ale Festival returns to downtown Yakima October 3rd. It’s the largest beer festival of it’s kind and was recently rated one of the top ten beer festivals in the USA.  As organizers say “Fresh Hop Ale Festival is the original fresh hop beer festival, and is still the best.” Enjoy access to over 40 breweries and wineries, plus cider, a cigar tent, live music, collectible pint glass, special beers on Beer Bike,  and three free half pints. $35 Per Ticket,  $65 Per VIP Ticket, $850 Per VIP Table.

indexThe Prosser Beer and Whiskey Festival is October 10th in the quaint town of Prosser. The event includes live music, food, rib cook-off, a bacon blitz, specialty vendors, VIP cigar lounge and much more. Must be 21 or over; ID required. General Admission: $15 – includes entrance and logo glass. VIP: $50 – limited to 300 tickets, includes logo glass, 20 tokens towards food and drink purchases, access to cigar lounge, pre-event distillery tour at Blue Flame Spirits, and welcome bag. All Access: $75 – limited to 100 tickets, includes logo glass, 25 tokens towards food and drink purchases, access to cigar lounge, pre-event distillery tour at Blue Flame Spirits, and welcome bag. Buy Tickets Here. For information call 509-786-3177

And there’s more! To keep on top of all the fall events, check the Yakima Valley Tourism’s Fall Celebrations website.  Remember, please enjoy responsibly and have a designated driver. See you in the Valley!

 

Latest News Along the Spirits and Hops Trail

Bale Breaker beer cans and kegs ready for their frothy brew!

Bale Breaker Brewing production areaAs summer comes to an end, the fields and orchards are abuzz as the crops are brought in and processed. Harvest is a great time of year in the Yakima Valley along the trail.  Hops and other crops that make our ciders, spirits and wines are being picked and headed to production.

With the exceptionally warm and dry summer, many crops in the Yakima Valley are ahead of schedule. The wine grape harvest began in early August when Chardonnay grapes were picked for Treveri Cellars for their sparkling wines. Now other wine grapes are coming online and the crush is underway earlier than usual and for a longer period.

When it comes to expansion plans,  Bale Baker Brewing Company is mirroring the harvest this year: It’s coming sooner than expected. Last week the owners announced plans to add 16,200 square-feet of space to their existing 11,000 square-foot operation near Yakima. This will give them more space for larger fermentation tanks, a bigger canning line plus space for dry and cold storage. “We’re in the midst of planning out our expansion now, which kind of surprised us because we weren’t planning to fill out this facility for probably five to seven years,” co-owner Kevin Quinn told the Yakima Herald in a feature on the expansion. Congrats to the gang, all of us look forward to your continuing success.

Meanwhile, on the West end of the Yakima Valley region, Bron Yr Aur Brewing Company outside the town of Naches is barreling along to a September opening (we hope!) Follow their progress via their Facebook page. In the meantime, you can stop by and enjoy their pizzas (love the BBQ pulled pork) plus the local and regional beers and ciders they have on tap in their adjoining restaurant.

Wishing you all a wonderful Labor Day weekend. Keep the firefighters battling the wildfires in your thoughts and prayers.

Beer Trivia and Facts

Spirits and Hops Trail beer glassHere’s a compilation of fun, silly and interesting facts around beer, one of our favorite subjects along the Spirits and Hops Trail. Amaze your friends the next time you hoist a glass or two!

  • It was an accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride’s father would supply his son-in law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer, and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the “honey month”, or what we know today as the “honeymoon”. Cheers to that!
  • Along that line, the word “bridal” comes from 19th century Englishmen, who took out their mates for a final “Bride Ale” the day before their wedding.
  • According to a diary entry from a passenger on the Mayflower, the pilgrims made their landing at Plymouth Rock, rather than continue to their destination in Virginia. Why? Lack of beer.
  • In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts. When patrons got unruly, the bartender would yell at them to mind their pints and quarts and settle down. It’s where we get the phrase “mind your P’s and Q’s”.
  • In 1963, Jim Whitaker became the first American to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. A can of Seattle’s own Rainier Beer made the ascent with him. And guess where the hops came from in that beer? Yep, Yakima Valley!
  • For some reason Bourbon is the official alcohol of the United States, by an act of Congress. Probably some zealous Senator from Kentucky made that happen! Wise folks have attempted to have that overturned in favor of beer instead over the years. With the exploding popularity of craft beers maybe it’s time to try again!
  • President Theodore Roosevelt took more than 500 gallons of beer with him on an African safari. Must have been thirsty work. Bully!
  • A beer barrel contains 31 gallons of beer. What we Americans refer to as a keg is actually 15.5 gallons, or a half-barrel. Either way, we sing “Roll out the barrels!”
  • Hops were used as early as 400 BC in Babylon. Historians think that the reason it was used as additive was for its antiseptic properties. You see, by adding hops brewers didn’t have to have high alcohol content to prevent spoilage. This meant less grains and therefore more profit.
  • Beer is the second most popular beverage in the world, coming in behind tea. We know which beverage is more fun to drink!
  • In Japan, beer is sold in vending machines, by street vendors and in the train stations. Time to book a trip I say!
  • If you collect beer bottles you’re a labeorphilist.
  • A beer lover or enthusiast is called a cerevisaphile. I wonder where they come up with these names?

Now don’t you feel a bit more educated?

(Source: BeerFestBoots. Check them out. They make cool custom beer boot glasses )

Check Out The Hop-portunities on the Yakima Valley!

HOPS 2Hop-por·tu·ni·ty

 Noun: Hop-portunity; plural noun: Hop-portunities

  1. A set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something involving hops. Example: “We will see increased hop-portunities to enjoy craft beer.
  2. Synonyms: Favorable time, occasion, moment, right set of circumstances, opening, window (of hop-portunity), and possibility.

Now is the time to celebrate the hop harvest in the Yakima Valley, which grows 78% of the hops sold in the USA.  Plan to attend three festivals celebrating the craft beer made from these Yakima Valley grown hops. Visit the only Hop Museum in the nation; learn about the history of growers in the valley. Take the hop-portunity to taste what the Yakima Valley brews. Visit Hop Nation Brewing Co., Yakima Craft Brewing Co., Bale Breaker Brewery, Snipes Mountain Brewery and Restaurant; All craft breweries located in the heart of hop country.

And here are some events to enjoy our local craft brews:

9/12/2015 America On Tap Craft Beer FestivalDowntown Yakima 2pm-5pm. Showcasing over 100 releases from some of America’s best craft breweries! Attendees will sample beers in an atmosphere filled with live music, delicious food available for purchase, and great vendors. Standard Ticket $35 *Ticket Prices Increase by $10 at the Door. Include: 3 Hours of Beer Sampling /Souvenir Sampling Glass/Live Music Entertainment.

10/3/2015 13th Annual Fresh Hop Ale Festival:  5 -10 p.m. Experience why this festival was voted as one of the top ten beer festivals in the nation; the original fresh hop beer festival, and still the best. Live music by Legs & Cracker Factory. Over 40 breweries, over 100 beers to try, rare treats on the beer bike cruising around the festival, because we think that sometimes beer should come to you. Cheers! We know you love fresh hop beers, but sometimes your entourage is looking for something different. Local wineries such as Tieton Cider Works, Gilbert Cellars, Kana Winery, Antolin Cellars,Treveri Cellars, Naches Heights Vineyard, Swede Hill Distillery will also be pouring at the 2015 festival.

Take advantage of these great hop-portunities to enjoy craft beverages from the heart of the hop world.

(Thanks to our sister site  YKM509 for letting us share this entry)

News Along the Yakima Valley Spirits and Hops Trail

Hope all of you are having a great summer and finding ways to beat the heat. Of course a nice brew or from the Yakima Valley may be a good idea!

It’s been a busy month or two on the local craft beverage scene. Here’s the latest:

  • Tieton Cider Works keeps improving their new facility. They have bocce’ ball along with a great outdoor area perfect for summer outings. In addition, they’ve released new ciders including a smoked pumpkin cider.
  • The craft beverage makers in greater Yakima have banded together to develop a new marketing entity called Craft Beverage Yakima. Thirteen craft beverage makers from ‘gap to gap’ are part of the organization. Check them out!
  • If you have not been to the new Hop Nation Brewing Company in downtown Yakima do stop by and hoist a pint by Master Brewer Ben Grossman.  What separates this brewery from others is their focus on Washington agricultural products, specifically Yakima Valley Hops and Columbia Valley grain, and their relationship to award winning beer.  It offers a tasting room to share with you its tasty, fresh, and uniquely hand-crafted brews.  The brewery and pub is located off of North First Street in a one hundred year old fruit packing warehouse that was last used to house hops.  The décor is an homage to the hop industry and features quarter rounds, kilns, hop poles, and hop twine integrated in everything from the lighting to the bar.  The first four beers on tap included a German style Hefeweizen, an Oat Pale Ale, an ESB, and an IPA.  With clever names like ESBeotch and EGO IPA (which stands for Everybody’s Got One) & great taste, you’ll have to try one.
  • A partner with Hop Nation Brewing is HopTown Pizza, which cooks up mighty fine provides wood fired pizzas Wednesday through Saturday at Hop Nation. They’re a mobile wood fired pizza truck that also caters events and at other locations.  They’re getting so popular that they’ve added a second truck to keep up with demand.  They use all local ingredients in their food and of course, flavor the pies with a sprinkle of hops as an ode to their family history. (Porky Pine and Hop DaddyDo are my favs).

As always, we’ll keep you posted of news and updates along the Spirits and Hops Trail. Enjoy!

Sunnyside to Host Ale Fest in June

10403594_812257152195105_4046189195267429752_nWe love festivals in the Yakima Valley and summer is prime time for festive fun.

Our friends in Sunnyside have created a new beer fest, giving you another opportunity to enjoy our locally crafted beers along the Spirits and Hops Trail.  The Sunnyside Summer Ale Fest takes place Saturday, June 27th at Centennial Square (6th and Edison) in downtown Sunnyside. Developed by the Sunnyside Daybreak Rotary Club, the event runs from 3:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

According to the festival website, “The idea for Sunnyside Summer Ale Fest came about like most good ideas do–over a pint of great beer between friends. Okay, a few pints of great beer. Our community is known for producing some of the world’s finest hops, so we will honor our area’s hop production by celebrating the wonderful beer that it helps produce.”

Given the festival is in early summer, organizers will encourage the breweries to focus on summer ales. Local breweries tapped for the event include Bale Breaker, Snipes Mountain and Horse Heaven Hills plus Icicle Brewing of Leavenworth. Wineries slated to participate at this time include Upland Estates and Cote Bonneville. And if you get hungry, Hop Town Pizza and Ann’s Best Creole and Soul Food will be on hand.

On Friday night there will be a special brewer’s dinner paired with craft beers at Bon Vino’s Bistro  (122 N. 16th St.).

Early bird tickets (through June 20th) are $20. Admission for the brewer’s dinner is $40 each. Buy tickets and get more details at their website. Proceeds will help fund sports programs for kids in Sunnyside.

Roots and Vines Fest Comes to Downtown Yakima

Lil' SmokiesLookin’ to cook up some fun this weekend? Here’s a recipe for you: Take eight hours of non-stop bluegrass, roots and Americana music. Then add 12 Yakima area craft beverage providers and local food vendors.  Combine with fine weather and you have a the makings for toe tappin’ and dancin’ on the streets.

The first Roots and Vines Fest takes over Downtown Yakima’s Historic Front Street Saturday, May 16th, from 2:00 p.m. to 10 p.m. In that time you’ll hear some fine picking from 10 regional and national bands including Sleepy Man, The Lil’ SmokiesFruition and Hillstomp. We’re excited to see our local Yakima friends from the Spirits and Hops Trail pouring their wines, beers, ciders and distilled products. For food options include G.G. & B’s Designer Hot Dogs, Carousel French Cuisine, Rusillo’s Pizza and Tazzah Mediterranean.

And while the fest is for 21 and older, there’s a family viewing area located left of the main stage at North Town Coffee.  For details check the FAQ site and be sure to bring smiles and sun screen!

Want a taste of what you’re in for? Check this video by Hillstomp of their song “Don’t Come Down”. See ya Saturday!