Not Martha

Hops Academy

In August I attended Hops Academy in Yakima, Washington. I don’t brew beer outside of kits but I have a deep love for hops, they are so darn yummy, so when I discovered that I could learn more about them I jumped at the chance. Also a friend of mine is expanding his brewery, Charging Hippo, and I figured knowing a lot about hops miiiight just be information that could be traded for beer. The academy was a two day class that ranged from basic introduction, how hops are grown, harvested and preserved to full on molecule diagrams. I learned that 75% of the hops in the US are grown in Yakima by ten growers, that in recent years the desires of craft brewers have dramatically influenced what variety of hops are grown commercially, that when you grow hops you need to wrap them clockwise around the cord (even in Australia) and I heard jokes like this:

“If you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the precipitate.”

One of the best things about the class was meeting the other attendees who ranged from a really huge beer company to large and small craft brewers and even a hops grower. I was wildly happy that women made up a fourth of the class. After the first day we took an unofficial “research” trip to The Beer Shoppe where we all bought bottles and tasted Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA which was sweet and potent. Oh so potent.

We were there about a week before the hops were going to be harvested so we got to visit huge fields full of ripe hops. They grow to 16 feet high and are very dramatic. It was a geeky thrill to get to pick one to crush in my hands, it smelled amazing. We also got to visit sparkling clean processing factories and, the most exciting, enormous cold warehouses filled with bales of hops.

If you’re a brewer or a grower I think the class would be well worth it. We learned that Haas is building an experimental brewery in Yakima and it will become part of the class so I’d wait for that to be up and running, hopefully by next summer. I might go back.

· comments [5] · 09-24-2012 · categories:misc ·

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 bravecanary // Sep 24, 2012 at 9:54 am

    megan, you gotta go try the cowiche canyon ipa at fremont brewing company – they have a partnership with an organic hop farm in yakima so truckloads of hops are trucked IMMEDIATELY over to the brewery after harvest. These giant hop cones the size of a baby’s arm go in fresh and green. There’s not too many breweries that are close enough to Yakima to do that!

    I am not an ipa girl, but sipping that beer is like standing in a hop yard.

  • 2 megan // Sep 24, 2012 at 11:35 am

    I *love* that particular beer a whole lot, thanks for the suggestion! I also love that they name the malt and hop ingredients on the bottle.

  • 3 Sandra // Sep 24, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    It was a great 2 day course! Wouldn’t it be fun to repeat it again with a visit to the test brewery? It was a good group of people and I’m glad I wasn’t the only female there!

  • 4 Nicole // Oct 16, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Next time, let your Yakima readers like me know you’re in town. Don’t forget the Fresh Hop Ale Festival the 1st Saturday in October every year either.

  • 5 megan // Oct 16, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    I will, thank you! And I was hoping to get to the Fresh Hop festival but couldn’t make it, next year for sure.

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