Yakima Fresh Hop Festival Explored
Living in the Pacific Northwest, we are lucky to live in a region with so many hop farms. If you like hoppy beers, then you are probably aware that Fall is a special time of year. Breweries throughout Oregon & Washington create a variety of fresh hop beers or as Bill Night likes to call them, Wet Hop Beers. We are truly spoiled living in the Pacific Northwest since we are so close to the source of the core ingredients of beer, namely, hop farms in this case.
With hop farms less than an hour away from Portland like Crosby Hop Farm, breweries can fire up the kettle take a quick drive to pick up hops then be back in time to finish brewing the beer with the freshest hops around.
As beer fans, we have the extraordinary opportunity to try these dank and vegetable flavored beers. Prepare to kill your palate.
Over the years Oregon has had a number of fresh hop festivals in Portland, Eugene and my personal favorite, Hood River.
Last year it was time for me to explore the hop capital of the world's fresh hop festival in Yakima, Washington. In its 14th year, the Yakima Fresh Hop Festival took place on Saturday, October 1st, 2016 featuring 40+ breweries and over 100 beers. This was the main event during fresh hop beer week, which ran from September 27th to October 2nd.
There are two pricing options for the festival, $35 for general admission (5-10pm) and includes $15 in script. The second option is $100 for the VIP experience that gets you in an hour earlier at 4 pm, access to special taps, food and private bathrooms amongst other things.
The festival featured beers from Reuben’s Brews, Bale Breaker Brewing and Pfriem Family Brewers. Even Barley Brown’s was representing with their harder to get fresh hop beers.
As an Oregonian, I had access to beers you can’t get in Oregon (Holy Mountain Brewing, Reuben’s and Stoup to name a few) and breweries that I have never heard of like Cowiche Creek Brewing and Wander Brewing.
Most beer festivals either post their tap list online and have a printed program. Expect neither from this festival. My recommendation is getting your barrings for the place first. Look at their online map that only shows the lay of the land without any specifics.
Next, grab a beer from a beer tent and walk around to see what you must have beers are. Although beer lines looked long most of them were not, people were just hanging out and not in line. The only exception to this was the consistently long line for Holy Mountain. Unfortunately, I did not have the chance to try their fresh hop beer before they ran out.
Typically each brewery had two beers. One fresh hop and one non-fresh hop. Some of my favorites included:
Barley Brown’s Beer Fresh Hop Pallet Jack
Georgetown Brewing Fresh Hop Johnny Utah
Deschutes Brewery Fresh Chasin' Hop Freshies
Non- Fresh Hop:
Reuben’s Brews Hoppy Pils
Cloudburst Brewing Coffee Porter
The 2016 winners include:
Best of Show - Fremont Brewing Cowiche Pale
Imperial IPA - Fat Head’s Brewery Kinda Is (Portland)
IPA - Bale Breaker Brewing Citra Slicker Wet Hop IPA
Pale Ale - Georgetown Brewing Fresh Hop Johnny Utah Pale Ale
The festival has plenty of room for attendees and several food options ranging from staples like pizza & hot dogs to Thai food.
Not hungry, then listen to live music or check out the hop photo booth.
If you have never been to Yakima, do yourself a favor and add it to the calendar. What better time to go than during Fresh HopBeer Week and be sure to check out the week’s highlight the Yakima Fresh Hop Fest. The 2017 Yakima Fresh Hop Fest is Sunday, September 30th from 5pm to 10pm. Tickets go on sale in June.