You’ll find almost as many hop yards in Yakima’s central Washington agrarian latitude as you’d see anywhere else in the world. And that’s saying something. Why, even the No. 1 hopsters in Germany must surely feel our Yankee challenge to their own Teutonic vines.
Seventy-five percent of America’s hops are produced by Washington farmers. Hop growers in the Evergreen State are expected to harvest almost 30,000 acres this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). OK, so that’s 10 percent fewer acres than the 1997 crop of more than 32,000 acres of hops, but this year’s yield is still ahead of any return in the past four years.
Hop cultivation actually dates from 1,600 years ago, all the way back to eighth-century Bavaria. But never mind history. Let’s talk about the here and now. For instance, consider the 2014 Inland Northwest Craft Beer Festival later this month, Sept. 26 and 27, at Avista Stadium on North Havana Street in Spokane. Representing dozens of Washington towns large and small, the 30 craft breweries at the festival will draw off more than 100 different draughts.
Here’s a good newspaper story on the current harvest. And for telling the hops tale, you’ll find no better encyclopedia than information from Roy Farms, Inc.Also check out this enlightening Washington State University website, not to mention the treasury of tidbits at the Washington Beer Commission.