COVID-19 Update: Bale Breaker Brewing Company’s taproom is temporarily closed to the public, but we are running weekly 12-5pm Saturday Drive-Thrus. Visit our blog for this week’s menu.
It’s hard to believe another hop harvest is underway already. This is a special time of the year for us, as it recalls some nostalgia of the decades of hop harvest we’ve had the chance to enjoy. This week we’re harvesting Cascade, Simcoe and Sabro, some of our favorites.
Many of our fans know by now that our great-grandmother, Leota Mae, planted the first five acres of hops in 1932, hence the Leota Mae IPA we named after her. The hop industry has changed so much since then, especially around Yakima. To learn more about hops, check out our post all about them, or the Hops 101 page on our website.
Here in the US, we’re now the leaders in producing aromatic hops, and aromatic hops have risen in popularity in the last decade thanks to the IPA. So much so that US hop acreage has increased nearly 95% in just six years, and the United States is producing 42% of the world’s hop supply.
During the month, we’ll spend several days a week sitting around a round table as a team, assessing the hops from Loftus Ranches right as they are picked off the bines. We open them up, rub and sniff, and make decisions about our brewing plans for the year. This is what is known as hop selection. For many obvious reasons we seek to keep our beers consistent, and this is a hugely important part of that process. We want to make sure this year’s Citra® is close enough to last year’s Citra® so that our Topcutter IPA will be recognizable to our fans. We also get the chance to get our hands on some experimental hop varieties and be on the cutting edge of featuring these new hops in our latest releases.
But even after all of that, our favorite part of harvest is all of the fellow brewers who come to Yakima to select their own hops for the year. Our friends (and role models) from Russian River, Odell and other big breweries work during the day and come to grab a happy hour beer in our taproom. We feel so lucky to get some time with them to pick their brains.
The hops are at their most luscious peak, all surrounding the brewery from 18-foot trellises, so if you have the opportunity, you don’t want to miss this time of year.
Happy harvest! Cheers!
Posted August 30, 2019