Hops, the main component in flavoring beer, is a sun loving plant. Requiring between six and eight hours of sunlight per day, these vertically growing flower buds are used all over the world. But, did you know that in 2016, Yakima surpassed even Germany in the hop harvesting sector? Thus making it the hop growing capital of the world.
There are two different ways to use hops to add flavor to beer. One way is to soak the flower buds in beer to give the drink a citrus, tropical herbal, earthy taste. Another way is to add them in before the fermentation process to create a more bitter taste.
So what is it about Yakima that makes it ideal for growing hops?
As stated above, hops need plenty of sunlight to thrive. This is something that in the Yakima area, with its hot & cool desert climate, provides. Combined with adequate irrigation from the Yakima River, these little green flowers have room to flourish. This is the unique reason why the Yakima Valley has about 75% of the total hop acreage in the states.
While most of us don’t know the difference between alpha and super alpha varieties of hops, these are the two most popular varieties grown here in our green thumb state. If you’re interested in learning more about hops, and how they are utilized in our beer across the state- here are some suggested breweries.
- Yakima Craft Brewing is a young brewery that of course, uses local hops. Their Taproom at the Brewery is open 7 days a week with varying times. Inquire when there about doing a tasting flight.
- Hop Nation Brewing Company provides live music every Friday evening, in their tasting room. Their website is currently under construction, so for detailed questions- please give them a call. Open 7 days a week as well.
- Bale Breaker Brewing Company is a family owned brewing company that has been in production since 1932. Here you can enjoy a beer indoors, or outside on their lawn. Every 4th Saturday of the month they also run a brewery tour, that needs to be signed up for online ahead of time. At the moment, they aren’t doing hop farm tours, but the taproom is surrounded by the fields that you can walk through.
We don’t like to tell other people what to do, but please remember to drink responsibly.