Last month, the World Food Travel Association (WFTA) recognized Yakima Valley as an outstanding destination for beer tourists. Yakima Valley won the 2017 FoodTrekking award for Best Beer Experience. According to WFTA, the FoodTrekking awards recognize worldwide excellence in food and beverage tourism in eight categories.
Beyond that, beer found its way onto the cover of the annual Yakima Valley Travel Guide. Usually it’s a wine thing, but this year it’s beer. (pictured below.)
“We’re excited the Yakima Valley was selected for this international award,” stated John Cooper, President & CEO of Yakima Valley Tourism. “The local craft brewers and hop growers get the credit. Coupled with our hospitality industry, it’s their stories and products, that make our region a unique beer destination.”
In 1981, Bert Grant opened the first post-Prohibition brewpub in America in Yakima. Bert was not a local. He’d spent most of his career working for large breweries back east. When seeking a location to open the kind of brewpub he’d experienced on the other side of the Atlantic, he chose Yakima because he wanted to be close to the hops. At a time when you could count the number of American “microbreweries” on one hand, one of them was in Yakima. Sadly, Bert Grant’s Brewery Pub is long gone, and so is he, but Bert remains a legend, one of the founding fathers of the craft beer revolution that changed the American beer landscape.
By now I’d expect that everyone who reads this blog knows that the Yakima Valley produces about 75 percent of the nation’s hop crop each year (about 25 percent of the world’s crop). Farmers in Yakima, Moxee, Toppenish, Union Gap, Prosser, and Sunnyside are responsible for the hops you love.
Today beer tourists head to Yakima for the same reason Bert Grant did. At Bale Breaker Brewing you can sit, quite literally, in the middle of a hop field and enjoy a tasty brew. Newly opened Cowiche Creek Brewing also has hops growing next to the brewery and tasting room. Other places to visit around the Yakima Valley include Bron Yr Aur Brewing, Snipes Mountain Brewery, Horse Heaven Hills Brewery and Saloon, and Whitstran Brewing. There are more; take a look at our map of Eastern Washington Breweries.
Go in July or August when the hops are high. Visit during the harvest (late August and September) when the air on the streets of Yakima is tinged with the aroma of beautiful fresh hops. Visit for the annual Fresh Hop Ale Festival at the beginning of October.
Cheers to the Yakima Valley!
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