[Via Seattle Magazine, Words by Kendall Jones] "In 2015 and 2016, the Yakima Valley produced more hops than any other agricultural area in the world, edging out Germany, which held that title for ages. Each year, about 75 percent of the nation’s hop crop comes from the Yakima Valley. Although the public may not know it, Yakima is recognized by beer brewers around the world as America’s hop mecca.
“Dad always told us that when you grow up on the farm, it is like hops are in your DNA,” says Meghann Quinn who grew up on B.T. Loftus Ranches, another multigenerational farm in the Yakima Valley, which has been growing hops since the end of Prohibition. “Dad also told us that when we grew up, we weren’t welcome back on the farm until we’d graduated from college and had another career,” says Quinn. “Then we could come back to work with him on the farm if we wanted.”
Her eldest brother, Patrick Smith, did just that, leaving a successful career as an investment banker to return to the farm.
Quinn and her other brother, Kevin, are further proof that the hops don’t fall far from the bine. Together with her husband, whose name also happens to be Kevin, and her two brothers, Quinn opened Bale Breaker Brewing Company in 2013. The brewery and taproom are located just outside of Yakima in a hop field on the family farm.
Mike Smith, Quinn’s father and the current president of B.T. Loftus Ranches, affirms that hop farming isn’t an easy life. He’s been working on the farm since he was 19, when he returned there to work alongside his grandmother Leota Loftus, after her husband died. But when asked if he ever considers plowing the hops under to grow an easier or perhaps more profitable crop, he pauses for a second as if puzzled by the question.
“We’re hop farmers. It’s what we do.”
Posted September 10, 2017