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.

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Spirits and Hops Trail Travels To Bend Oregon

20150426_124844-01We’re at the Sunriver Resort near Bend at the Travel and Words Northwest Travel Writers Conference, sharing stories of the Yakima Valley and the Spirits and Hops Trail.  We’re sharing how the Yakima Valley is ‘hop heaven’ since we supply 78% of the hops used by the breweries across the U.S. The LolliHop candies we gave out were a big hit. Likewise we shared tales of our agricultural heritage, wine country and the many festivals that celebrate our cultures. This morning we sponsored the breakfast and had the resort include locally grown food products donated by Chukar Cherries, Tree Top and fresh apples from the Valley.

With 70 writers and bloggers in attendance it’s an important event for us to share the stories of the Yakima Valley and to be a resource for the writers. Definitely our craft beverages are forefront in our message this year. Cheers to all the attendees!

Yakima Valley Heads to Seattle Food & Wine Experience

swfeThe  Seattle  Wine  and  Food  Experience is this Sunday and the Yakima Valley will be there in force! In addition to a number of local wineries and other beverage providers, Yakima Valley Tourism is a Gold Sponsor and will host a double booth full of locally crafted bites and beverages.

Our prime sponsor to attend the show is Tree Top. As a result, we’re bringing Chef Kristin Johnson over to serve up tasty morsels using Tree Top products including honey crisp glazed vanilla peach palmiers, BBQ Chipotle cherry apple compote tarts, three apple Glacier Basin Cherry Brandy spritzer and a Chukar Cherry tart fruit smoothie chocolate. Like YUM!

On the beverage side we’ll pair these delights with a Syrah from Gilbert Cellars, a Viognier from AntoLin Cellars, an apricot hard cider from Tieton Cider Works and Bale Baker Brewery Topcutter IPA.

“This is a great way for folks in Seattle to taste what we grow here in the Valley,” stated John Cooper, President & CEO of Yakima Valley Tourism. “We’re excited to be at this show.”

General  Admission  tickets  are  $55 and  available  at http://www.seattlewineandfoodexperience.com. Must be 21 and over to attend. Hope to see you there!

Spirits and Hops Trail In the News Again

Hoppy Ad Yakima ValleyMai Hoang of The Yakima Herald Republic penned a great feature today about our efforts and the City of Yakima to further position Yakima as a craft beverage destination.  We’re excited with the city’s commitment and all that we have accomplished the past year to market the craft beverages of the region.

What does the future hold? In 2015 we’ll be updating the Spirits and Hops Trail website plus print a map of the various craft beverage outlets on the trail. We’re also working with writers and bloggers that to host in the area and produce stories on the trail, the stories behind the craft beverages and dining opportunities. In addition, our marketing efforts will focus on fun food experiences and craft beverages. Currently we have a series of ‘We’re So Hoppy’ ads running in various lifestyle magazines including Sip Northwest and Northwest Travel (see sample at left).

So here’s to the new year and see you soon along the trail!

Holiday Gifts from the Spirits and Hops Trail

ciderIt’s down to the wire, the final days of the year. Scrambling for that special gift or special beverages to ring in the New Year? Try some products from the Spirits and Hops Trail.

First off you might want to visit any number of our wineries for your holiday dinner wine or as a gift. Many of the wineries also have a range of wine related gifts including novelty cork screws, wine glasses, coasters and more. Everyone wants a little bubbly for New Years so consider some Treveri sparking wine to ring in 2015. Our choice would be the rose’ but really, you can’t go wrong with any bubly! A fun alternative for New Years Eve is a hard cider or two. Popular choices include the cherry or apricot ciders from Tieton Cider Works in Yakima. Or try their Gingerbread Holiday Cider, a limited release only available at their tasting room. It’s filled with nutmeg, ginger, and hints of vanilla.

Then again, a hearty beer might be in order to chase away the cold of a winter night. In that case consider Twin Stag from Yakima Craft Brewing Company, a Scottish Ale ‘…perfect as a complement to good conversation and long, bold tales.’ If you’re throwing a grand New Years party consider getting a keg of High Camp Winter Warmer from Bale Breaker Brewing Company near Moxee. This seasonal brew is named for the ski lodge on top of the White Pass Ski Resort. And while Glacier Basin Distillery does not appear to have any special events at the Ranch this time of year, you can always find their fine distilled products at various local outlets and restaurants.

From all of us along the Spirits and Hops Trail in Yakima & the Yakima Valley we wish you a joyous and safe holiday season. Remember, enjoy responsibly!

News and Updates Along the Yakima Valley Spirits and Hops Trail

Tieton Cider Works ExteriorFolks are still basking in the glow after what appears to be the most successful Fresh Hop Ale Festival in downtown this past weekend. Unofficial projections place the attendance at nearly 7,000! There was a lot of activity and energy, not to mention perfect weather and a stellar sunset! Congrats to the organizers and volunteers who made it a success.

Now on to more fall fun!

Our friends at Tieton Cider Works are planning a new chapter in their operation by opening a Yakima tasting room. The expanded space will include a Cider Bar complete with 6 taps of their core and seasonal ciders. The official ribbon cutting will take place on location Thursday, October 30th at 3:30pm. Cider and light refreshments will follow in the Cider Bar. Their Grand Opening Celebration is slated for Saturday, Nov 1 from noon to 5 p.m. with cider tastings, facility tours and give-aways.  Their new digs are at 619 West J Street, Yakima.

While not a spirit or hop product, the annual wine crush celebrations are an emerging event in the Yakima Valley with dozens of wineries participating. Wine makers and staff will be sharing how wine is made as the grape crush is literally happening. Plus there will be wine discounts, food, harvest dinners, music and more at different wineries. Here’s a link of our member wineries and their activities coming up this week. Also, the Prosser Chamber of Commerce is putting on a Beer and Whiskey Festival Saturday October 11th so check that out too.

There’s lots of other celebrations and events happening this fall in the Yakima Valley to celebrate the season and harvest.

Finally, congratulations to the folks and businesses recognized as part of Sip Northwest magazine’s Best of the Northwest 2014, including Bale Breaker, Tieton Cider Works, Gilbert Cellars and Alexandria Nicole. Special call out to Sharon Campbell of Tieton Cider for being recognized as an cider industry influencer (so true) and Fresh Hop Ale Festival for being the Best Festival in the Northwest (agree).

See you on the Spirits and Hops Trail!

Case of the Blues and All That Jazz

OCase of the Bluesne of the biggest events of the summer is this here! A Case of the Blues and All That Jazz is Saturday, 5-11pm at Sarg Hubbard Park along the beautiful Yakima Greenway near downtown. This blues and jazz festival not only is a fun celebration but it also benefits the community through the Yakima Greenway Foundation and Junior League of Yakima programs.

What we love is that local breweries, wineries and great local food will be available. For live entertainment there’s Tuck Foster & The Mossrites, Anni Piper and the popular Billy D and the Hoodoos.

Please note that this is a 21 and over event.  Tickets are $40 in advance and $45 day of the event. Visit yakimagreenway.org/blues for event information and tickets or call 509-453-8280. Check also their Facebook page for updates.

Beyond the Vine During Yakima Valley Spring Barrel Tasting

Glacier Basin TastingIt’s April in the Yakima Valley. Apple, cherry and other fruit trees are blooming by the acre. It’s also the time for Spring Barrel Tasting, when folks flock to wineries from Yakima to Red Mountain to enjoy wines straight from the barrel, great food, music and fun in the vineyards. Folks now have the option enjoy other adult beverages during the celebration along the Spirits and Hops Trail.

Here’s a run down of some the events happening at our partner’s establishments during Spring Barrel:

Glacier Basin Distillery will open during the main Spring Barrel weekend April 26th and 27th 10 a.m.  to 4 p.m.  for tastings and sales of their tasty grappa, cherry kirschwasser and apple brandy. Then they will be open every Saturday starting  May 3 through the summer, 11 AM to 5 PM. For more information visit their website.  2604 Draper Road Yakima, WA 98903. Phone: 509-930-0817

If you need a change of pace (and palate), stop in one of our many brew pubs and breweries in the Valley. Bale Breaker Brewing Company will be open  Friday 3-9 PM and Saturday 12-8 PM. On Saturday Bale Breaker will have fresh, hot pizza for sale. Snipes Mountain Brewery in Sunnyside is open Friday and Saturday 11 AM to 10 PM and 11 AM to 9 PM Sunday of Spring Barrel weekend.

Check our Guzzle and Grub section of the website for eataries in the Valley offering fine locally crafted beers, ciders, spirits and wines. Have fun during Spring Barrel and remember, enjoy responsibly!

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!