Home of the Hops: A look into a Yakima farming tradition

It’s no secret that the Yakima valley produces a very large number of hops. Roughly 75% of the nation’s hops are grown, harvested, shipped, and in some cases, brewed here in the Pacific Northwest.

“What we’re really excited about is the quality of this year’s crop is stellar,” said Steve Carpenter, Chief Supply Chain Officer for Yakima Chief Hops.

Between the beginning of September and the end of October roughly 40,000 acres of hops will be collected.

“It’s crazy this time of the year, most growers are harvesting 24 hours a day,” said Carpenter.

The valley’s rich volcanic soil, water from the snow-capped mountains, and lots of sunshine has helped produce an array of hops. Carpenter says over the last decade the industry has called for an increase in the number of aroma varieties.

“About 80% of the hops we grow here on the Pacific Northwest are aroma hops which are primarily used by the crafts segment for flavors and aromas in the beer.”

Looking down the road, the beer will continue to flow as long as the river does. Currently, there is not much concern for climate change impacting future harvests, however the competition in Europe is being impacted by rising temperatures.

“Three of the last four years were really challenges in Germany, because of the excessive heat. The thing we have to mitigate those factors here in the United States is most of our hops are irrigated, and so we’re able to mitigate some of the issues that come with climate change.”

The community is invited to come celebrate the home of the hops at the 17th annual Fresh Hop Ale Festival on October 5 from 5 to 10 p.m. at 5 w. Yakima Ave.

General admission is $45 per person and for designated drivers, only $20. You can buy those tickets here.