Fall in the Yakima Valley means two important things for craft beverage lovers. It’s not only grape harvest and crush season in wine country – it’s also fresh hop season. That means it’s time for a farm-to-glass adventure under sunny skies, and Union Gap is your base camp for fall sipping.
The Yakima Valley produces 50% of the state’s wine grapes and 120 wineries call the Valley home. Some might not know the Yakima Valley is also U.S. hop country. The combination of the hop industry and exceptional craft breweries make the Valley a craft beer lover’s destination unlike any other. As one of the largest hop producing regions in the world, the Yakima Valley grows nearly 75% of the nation’s hops. Local hop growers keep the U.S. beer industry brewing, but it’s the craft beer scene that’s hopping with nearly 20 craft breweries and taprooms.
Fall is the perfect time of year to tour Yakima Valley wine country and the one-and-only hop country craft beer trail. Not only will grape harvest be underway, every single hop cone in the Valley gets harvested and processed over the span of 30 crazy days around September, filling the Valley with hop aromas.
This time of year is when crush happens in the wineries and when fresh hop ales are brewed right at the source. So, what is a fresh hop ale? One of the most eagerly anticipated and celebrated beers, fresh hop ales are brewed with whole, wet (fresh) hop cones that go straight from the bine to the kettle within 36 hours of harvest. In the Yakima Valley, those hops make it to the kettle sometimes in a matter of minutes rather than days. These brews capture the essence of hops in their most natural form and honor the agricultural roots of the craft beer industry.
Harvest season culminates with the Yakima Valley’s signature Fresh Hop Ale Festival, one of the “Top 10 Beer Festivals in The Nation.” And that’s not the only time to celebrate fresh hop brews. Throughout harvest, breweries around the Valley release fresh hop ales with hops harvested just minutes away. Follow your favorite breweries and taprooms for their fresh hop release parties and events leading up to festival time.
When you stay in Union Gap, you’re perfectly situated with easy access to all your favorite Yakima Valley winery and brewery destinations in every direction.