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.

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.

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