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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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)

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!

Hop Nation Brewery Opens in Downtown Yakima

20150403_164732_LLS_1Had a chance to swing by Hop Nation Brewing Company’s soft opening last week during the First Friday event in downtown Yakima. Pardon the pun, but things were hopping! Owner Ben and crew were serving  a nice crowd with the brews while HopTown Wood Fire Pizza was there baking up their 9″ pies of delight.

On tap was ESBeotch, EGO ipa, Cream On-oat pale ale and Weiss, a German Hefeweizen. Had a chance to try the Weiss and it delivered a smooth, mild wheat flavor you’d expect. Pints are $4.00 but when a train rumbles buy you get 50 cents off.20150403_164928_LLS_1

Also tried a slice of the HoppDaddyDo from HopTown pizza. With Italian sausage crumbles, pepperoni, Roma tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil and their signature pinch of hops it delivered a spicy and tasty complement to the beer. Hop Town Pizza is serving their wood fired pizzas Wednesday-Saturday 4 p.m.- 8 p.m. in the old Track 29 parking lot for Hop Nation guests and walk ups (31 N. 1st Avenue. Look for the big wood fire oven and friendly staff).

Hop Nation Brewing Company hours: According to their Facebook page, hours are 3:30 to close Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 12-close Saturday and Sundays. Location: 31 N. 1st Avenue

Another gem in the downtown craft beverages along the Spirits and Hops Trail! See you there.

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2014 Was The Largest Hop Crop in Past Five Years

HOPS 2Hoppy days are here again!

According to an article in Saturday’s Yakima Herald, in 2014 U.S. hop growers produced their largest crop in five years. Even so, they could not keep up with the international demand for craft beer.

Last year featured a 10% increase in acreage but low yields and high prices, according to statistics released last week by the Hop Growers of America.

Rising prices and crop size have been driven by the growth in craft beers, which need more hops and a range of flavors. Washington state’s Yakima Valley produces about 77 percent of the nation’s hops.

Check out the full article here. Here’s to another banner year!

Yakima Is Becoming the Craft Beverage Center of the Northwest

20141101_123824

Tieton Cider Works celebrates their grand opening of their cider bar November 1st

Last Saturday, Tieton Cider Works had their grand opening for their new 35,000 square foot production facility and Cider Bar at  619 West J Street. With that celebration another craft beverage operation comes to Yakima. It joins four existing wineries (AntoLin Cellars,  Gilbert Cellars, Kana Winery and Lookout Point Winery) and two breweries (Yakima Craft Brewing Company, which has two tap rooms, and Berchman’s Brewing Company, which has begun brewing in West Valley just this week. Though not in Yakima, let’s also give a nod to nearby Bale Breaker Brewery). There’s also three distilleries in Yakima or close by (Swede Hill Distillery, Glacier Basin Distillery and Scenic Acres Orchard) plus the bars, pubs and eateries that offer locally crafted adult beverages.  And it doesn’t appear to be ending there. Sources tell me that other breweries and wineries are in the works for Downtown and beyond. That’s great news.

In a way Yakima is coming full circle. It was the birthplace of the modern day microbrewery/pub scene when Bert Grant opened the first post-prohibition microbrewery in 1982. Sadly Grants Brewery Pub closed down some years later and it was not until 2007 that Yakima saw another brewery open when Yakima Craft began operations. It’s only natural that the brewpub scene  would come back to Yakima. Our region grows some 75% or more of the hops in America, and much of it is processed in the City of Yakima. Likewise, with the vast quantities of wine grape and fruit production the Yakima Valley it’s fitting that more wineries and distilleries are popping up around town.

These are among the reasons why we created the Spirits and Hops Trail in the summer of 2013. The site celebrates our agricultural heritage through the craft beverages that make Yakima and the Yakima Valley special. Another goal of the Spirits and Hops Trail is to help the craft beverage industry to grow and prosper through marketing and media relations. In the coming months the website and related projects will expand to include additional features about our craft beverages, festivals that celebrate and promote them plus the people behind the scenes making it happen. As always we’ll keep you posted on new developments in the beverage scene in Yakima and beyond.

In the meantime, enjoy this Evening Magazine TV segment on Tieton Cider Works.

John Cooper

Yakima Valley Tourism

 

 

Fresh Hop Ale Festival Returns to Yakima

FHAF4Hey all you fresh brewed hop heads! The Fresh Hop Ale Festival returns next week so get your tickets.

Billed as one of the 10 Best Brew Festivals in the nation by various online magazines such as Americas Best Online, Suds Magazine and Seattle Beer news, the 12 annual Fresh Hop Ale Festival gets underway Saturday, October 4th from 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. in in downtown Yakima. Attendees can sample a selection of 36 different craft beers and fresh hop brewed beers, local wines and ciders. Various local restaurants will also be on hand to serve.   Live music includes Seattle bands Cumulus and Smokey Brights.

This event is big! More than over 5,000 people are expected.  General admission is $30.00 online and $35.00 day of event at the gate. Proceeds from the event support two local art institutions the Yakima Valley Museum and the Seasons Performance Hall.

Other festivities prior to this event include the 2014 Brewers Dinners, Oct. 1st – Oct. 3rd where brewers and chefs pair their talents and products to create memorable dining experiences. Participating restaurants & breweries are Bert’s Pub with Bale Breaker Brewing Company, Second Street Grill will host Fremont Brewing Company, and the Yakima Valley Hops Brew Bash, hosted by Fresh Hop with Sierra Nevada beer served, along with a few other drink choices.

For more information on the 2014 Fresh Hop Ale Festival visit http://freshhopalefestival.com/index.html

 

(Photo by Sara Lasha)

Spirits and Hops Trail News and Updates

tieton-3As spring quickly turns to summer in the Yakima Valley there’s a lot of developments along the Spirits and Hops Trail. Here’s a sampling of the latest news:

  • Tieton Cider Works has purchased a 40,000 square foot building in Yakima with plans to make it their production facility and a tasting room. Management will make announcements regarding their plans, including the location, in June. We look forward to the new facility!
  • Along that line, the Yakima Herald Republic recently reported that Yakima Craft Brewery is planning a downtown Yakima location. We’ll share more details when they become public so stay tuned. UPDATE May 20: As reported in the Yakima Herald Republic the new location will be in the Larson Building on Yakima Avenue in downtown Yakima.
  • Congrats to the folks at Bale Breaker Brewing Company for being awarded Tourism Business of the Year by Yakima Valley Tourism. Well deserved. And if you had not heard yet, their beers are now being served at Safeco Field during Mariner games. Play ball!
  • A new festival is being created in Yakima! The Yakima Blues and Local Brews Bash will debut Saturday, June 14th in the Historic North Front Street district in Downtown Yakima.  The festival will feature local, nationally recognized, and internationally acclaimed blues artists from 2:00 pm to 9:00 pm.  A highlight of the fun will be craft beers brewed in the Central Washington region, Yakima Valley wine and food prepared by Historic North Front Street district restaurants. There will be kid events too!

Anyway, look forward to seeing you in the Yakima Valley this summer.

 

Bale Breaker Brewery Celebrates American Craft Beer Week

IMG_3507As craft beer continues to capture the imaginations and palates of millions of Americans, Bale Breaker Brewing Company is one of the many breweries nationwide that will toast the 9th annual American Craft Beer Week (ACBW). With more than 2,800 small and independent craft breweries across the country, the observance of ACBW is more significant than ever before. Across all 50 states, craft beer lovers, breweries, wholesalers and retailers will celebrate the culture and community of craft beer.

In Yakima, Bale Breaker Brewing Company has events planned the weekend of May 16-17 (all ages welcome!). On Friday, May 16 from 4-8 PM they will have pizza by the slice from Moxee’s Big Red’s Diner. Saturday from 2-8 PM they’ll offer gourmet turkey sausage dogs with Winey Dogs and a special FREE behind-the-scenes brewery tour at 2pm!

“American Craft Beer Week allows everyone to honor and toast the hard work and success of the craft beer community,” said Julia Herz, publisher of CraftBeer.com and craft beer program director at the Brewers Association. “Against many odds, craft brewers have used grassroots efforts to grow the industry one glass, one bottle, one can, one keg, one growler and one customer at a time.”

Cheers to American Craft Beer!

U.S. Hop Production Up 13 Percent in 2013

This blog is a reprint of an article by Capital Press, posted with their permission.

YAKIMA, Wash. — U.S. hop production was up 13 percent from 61.2 million pounds in 2012 to 69.3 million pounds in 2013, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The crop was valued at $249 million, up 28 percent from a revised 2012 value of $195 million, according to a Dec. 23 NASS report. The average price per pound was $3.59 up from $3.18 a year ago and $3.14 two years ago.

All of this shows the industry, centered in Washington’s Yakima Valley, is doing very well and probably will be for the next two to three years, said Pete Mahony, director of supply chain management and purchasing for John I. Haas Inc., Yakima, a leader in hop processing, research and development. Oil in the hop cone or flower is used for flavoring and stabilizing beer.

Expansion of small, craft breweries is driving the hop increase, Mahony said. Craft breweries continue to increase in number and size, he said. Craft brewers make up only 7 to 8 percent of the brewing industry but have a 15 percent annual growth. Large brewers comprise the bulk of the industry but average 1 to 2 percent annual growth, he said.

Haas opened a new multi-million dollar center for hop research and development in Yakima in June. It includes a research brewery.

Of the national production, 79.2 percent (54.9 million pounds) comes from the Yakima Valley — mostly from farms around Moxee, Prosser and Toppenish. Climate, soil and length of sunlight hours were factors in the Yakima Valley becoming the premier hop growing region in the U.S., Mahony said.

Another 12.3 percent (8.5 million pounds) is from Oregon’s Willamette Valley between Salem and Woodburn, and the remaining 8.5 percent (5.8 million pounds) is from the Caldwell, Idaho, area.

Acres harvested in 2013 were: 27,062 for Washington; 4,786 for Oregon; and 3,376 for Idaho, for a U.S. total of 35,224. Those figures were up slightly from a June 1 forecast.

Idaho is growing more rapidly in production and acreage than Washington and Oregon. That’s because Idaho has more acreage readily available for expansion while acreage is getting tighter in Washington and Oregon, Mahony said.

Washington will have to expand hop picking and drying facilities in a couple of years to keep increasing acreage, he said. Oregon growers deal with more downey mildew because of the wetter Willamette climate but some varieties grow better there, Mahony said.

Prices are stronger in Washington and Oregon at $3.68 per pound versus $2.64 per pound in Idaho. That’s because Washington and Oregon have more of the expensive aroma varieties for flavoring and Idaho has more alpha varieties for bitterness, Mahony said.

Harvested hops can be stored three to five years depending on whether it is stored in pellets, extract or further refinements of extract, he said.