The Yakima Valley may be best known for its must-visit wineries, but there’s more than grapes growing in this American Viticultural Area. Home to over 75% of all US hop production, Yakima is a craft beer powerhouse. And nowhere are those hoppy brews fresher than from the source. Visit these five Yakima breweries to get a farm-to-glass taste of the place, and check out the Yakima Valley Craft Beer Trail for even more brewery stops. Welcome to Hop Country, USA!
Cowiche Creek Brewing
Take a winding, scenic drive through fruit orchards to reach Cowiche Creek Brewing. Perched atop the hills west of Yakima on a 45-acre hop and barley farm, Cowiche Creek Brewing offers an expansive outdoor sipping space. This park-like setting feels like a friend’s backyard — kids and dogs are welcome, so bring the whole family.
We were impressed with the hop-forward beer selection. From Tiny Dog Session IPA (named after the brewery dog) to Camp 4 Imperial IPA, there’s a range of hoppy brews available. My favorite was Golden Soda, a “hopped-up American Pilsner” with a rustic, pale ale-like character. These farm-brewed beers are worth the 20-minute drive from downtown Yakima. Not convinced yet? They also offer burgers (I’m told the Smoke Jumper pork belly burger is a “monster”), brats and quesadillas to soak up the hoppy goodness.
Bron Yr Aur Brewing
Founded in 2013 by the Hatten family, Bron Yr Aur Brewing (pronounced Bron yar) is your destination for a laid-back, rural brewery near the mountains. It’s the ideal spot for post-adventure brews. Located 20 minutes northwest of Yakima in Naches, the “Gateway to the Cascades”, Bron Yr Aur offers an enormous outdoor area for soaking up the Yakima Valley’s 200+ days of sunshine. Kids (and leashed dogs) are welcome.
Bron Yr Aur has a reputation for fantastic pizza made with beer-infused crust. Combined with some decadent dark beers — like their Great American Beer Festival award-winning Thriller Pillar Porter — the brewery is the perfect place to satisfy your pizza and beer cravings. Other favorites we sampled during our visit were the Gentlemen’s Stout, whose dark char profile is exactly what a hunting lodge might taste like. For something lighter, the Beaver Deceiver Cream Ale goes down a little too easy on hot days.
Bron Yr Aur has outgrown their space and is opening a second location, Oak Creek Brewstillery. Half brewery, half distillery, the extra space allows Bron Yr Aur brewers to create barrel-aged and spontaneously fermented brews, as well as whiskey, gin, vodka and more. We toured the brewstillery with brewer Zach, and can’t wait to return once it’s fully up and running. Follow along on Instagram to keep an eye on this exciting new project!
Wandering Hop Brewery
Travel-inspired Wandering Hop Brewery is a small-batch, experimental brewery located near downtown Yakima. We were immediately welcomed by the friendly bartender and seated outside at a cozy fire table. Known for their hazy and juicy IPAs, Wandering Hop brews a variety of balanced, dangerously drinkable styles. We tried a sample tray and enjoyed them all.
Food options were especially enticing here. Our bartender recommended the Loaded Hummus plate, which we paired with Crostini for the perfect happy hour snack. You’ll also find charcuterie and some classic hot sandwiches on the menu. The original Yakima location is a 21+ establishment, and well-behaved dogs are welcome outside.
Wandering Hop is opening a second location in 2021 — Wanderland in Zillah. The new space is family-friendly and offers plenty of room to spread out. There’s even a kids play area!
Single Hill Brewing
Located in the center of downtown Yakima, Single Hill is a hip urban brewery offering 16 taps. Their styles include “refreshing light beers, tart and fruity sours, hoppy IPAs and a range of classic styles” — so something for everyone. If you’re looking for something a little different, Single Hill always has experimental brews on tap. My favorite was the refreshing Raspberry Sky sour, a sipper made for sunny weather.
Out on the patio, Single Hill’s resident food truck, 5 Salsas, is a local favorite. The name comes from (you guessed it!) their five salsas with varying levels of spiciness. Grab a plate of tacos and try a few beers to best enjoy this kid and dog-friendly brewery.
Bale Breaker Brewing
Last but certainly not least, Bale Breaker is a given on any Yakima brewery itinerary. Launched in 2013 from the middle of a hop field, Bale Breaker has grown steadily to become the third-largest independent craft brewery in Washington. The enormous taproom and 30-barrel brewhouse are housed within a 27,000 square foot facility, with plenty of lawn space and outdoor seating to boot. If you haven’t visited Bale Breaker, have you even been to Yakima?
Knowledgeable bartending staff have a “meet you where you’re at” mentality, so you can walk in with little or no beer background and feel comfortable. They even make hard seltzer if you’re not in the mood for beer. But most folks come for the hops. Bale Breaker’s Top Cutter IPA is one of the most iconic IPAs in the state — and that’s saying something in a very crowded market. Bring your own food or check to see if they have a food truck. Bring along the kiddos and doggos, and taste everything you can get your hands on!
Featured image: Yakima Valley Tourism