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.
Yakima Chief Hops staff member, Victoria Garza, invites you to learn more about the story behind the popular Mango IPA, from conception to collaboration, and what this tasty brew means to the hop community.
For the third year in a row, Bale Breaker is releasing Mango IPA on Saturday, May 4, 2019...and what an incredible journey it has been since we first released the beer!
The journey of this Mango IPA started in 2016 at a tradeshow in Mexico City called Cerveza Mexico. It was at that event where I had the opportunity to meet Esteban Silva from Cervecería de Colima (Colima, Mexico) and Alejandro “Alejo” Magallanes from Cerveza Loba (Guadalajara, Mexico).
During one of the booth breaks, we ended up chatting and touched on a variety of subjects. As our conversation manifested, we always came back to the topic of Mexicanos being so prominent in the Yakima Valley and in the beer industry, many of them being from the Colima and Guadalajara regions.
Being part of the hop industry and living in Yakima, I was able to confirm that this indeed was correct, that Mexicanos make up the majority of the farm labor needed to make sure brewers are getting their hops. We were all disappointed that this important part of the industry wasn’t celebrated enough, and that brewers and beer drinkers didn’t even know about the impact that Mexicanos have on the hop industry.
It was during that conversation where the idea of making a beer to bring awareness to this important part of the beer industry was born.
From November of 2016 to May of 2017, Cervecería de Colima took the lead in organizing the first release of the of the project that became Sesiones del Migrante in Guadalajara and Colima. During this time, two up-and-coming California breweries– Ronin Fermentation Project (Truckee, CA) & SouthNorte (San Diego, CA) joined the collaboration. As a representative for Yakima Chief Hops, I took the lead in donating the hops grown in the Yakima Valley. However, to emphasize the hop community’s deep roots in Yakima, we asked Bale Breaker if they would join this collaboration, one of Yakima’s pioneering breweries owned by a multi-generational family hop farm. Without hesitation, they agreed, and I guess you can say the rest is history.
Looking back now, I can’t help but think that I was really at the right place at the right time.
Why is this project so important? For starters, if we didn’t have the farm labor, we wouldn’t be able to harvest the massive number of hops necessary to brew the many beers across the world. As with any other agricultural product, growers rely heavily on daily farm labor and field workers, and hops in particular are a crop that demand a lot of labor. At times of the year, over 200 people are needed for just one local farming operation.
With the assistance of the H-2A program, migrant farm workers from Mexico are coming to the Yakima Valley to fill the void in employment that the farms here face every year. Long story short, there is not enough local interest in signing up for this labor-intensive work. For the majority of the year, these migrant farm workers are leaving behind their families to provide a better life for them and give them opportunities to prosper.
With Sesiones del Migrante, we celebrate their hard work, sacrifice and dedication as they journey from Mexico to the Yakima Valley so that brewers globally will have the hops they need to make the best beer. Not only are we celebrating the migrant farm workers, but we donate 20% of the Mango IPA proceeds to La Casa Hogar, a non-profit that connects and educates Latina families in Yakima.
Posted May 02, 2019