It may come as a great shock to some of you that I have never been to Yakima for fresh hop season. In the grand scheme of my craft beer journey, my love of this tongue-tingling beer style has been a fairly recent development. In past years, I’ve overlooked fresh hop festivities, but no longer. So, when I was approached with the opportunity to finally attend Yakima’s Fresh Hop Ale Fest this Saturday, October 5, I jumped at the chance for five glorious hours of hoppy bliss.
Now in its eleventh year running, this festival is a celebration of one of Washington’s most bountiful crop: Hops. While the harvest began earlier this month, hops will continue to be collected off the vines over the next few weeks and brewers have already begun releasing their seasonals that highlight this year’s freshest ingredients.
The Fresh Hop Ale Festival showcases beers produced with fresh, Yakima Valley hops, the world’s largest hop-growing region (78%). To qualify for the festival and be considered a “fresh hop ale” the beers must be produced with Yakima Valley hops that have moved from vine to vat in 24 hours. Qualifying brews will be judged by professionals in the industry (for the Judges Awards) as well as attendees (for the People’s Choice Awards). The fest will include over 30 breweries, 16 food vendors, five local wineries, and two bands. The event on Saturday runs from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Yakima’s Millenium Plaza downtown and will feature at least one fresh hop beer from each brewery present.
All proceeds from this festival go towards supporting Allied Arts of Yakima Valley, a non-profit organization that has been promoting and coordinating arts events in the Valley since 1962. Allied Arts focuses on developing artistic and academic skills in youth, community enhancement, and economic development.
Tickets are still available online at Brown Paper Tickets for $30 plus service fee, or $35 at the gate Saturday evening. Ticket price includes entry into the festival, a pint glass and $7 in “script.” A 4-oz pour is $2 of script. Additional script can be purchased for $1 per script at the festival. A full pint it is $5 script (or $5).
This year, Yakima, Washington. Next year, Hood River Valley, Oregon? Cheers!