Besides apples and grapes, one of the biggest crops in the Yakima Valley is hops which are used to flavor beer and ales. They are flower buds which are flower buds which impart a myriad of aromas and flavors such as bitterness, sweetness, citrus, pine, There is a world wide market for hops. Besides the U.S., much is exported. In Spain, 35% of the beer is made with Yakima Valley hops. Much of these hops are distributed by Haas, a German company with a branch in Yakima that Lynn's niece's husband works for. On September 8th, Micah Cawley took us on a tour of hops harvesting.

We met in front of the Haas headquarters in Yakima from where Micah drove us around. Our first stop was at CLS Farm near Moxee which is run by 4th generation growers where we toured the hops processing facility. First, we saw hops on long stems which were harvested by cutting at the bottom being hung  upside down and shaken to loosen the buds and then being put on a conveyer belt up to a huge room for drying 8 to 10 hours in a huge tank over massive propane furnaces. Once the buds have reached the desired dryness, they are conveyed to the baling room where they are put into 200 pound bales. for shipment to breweries around the world. Most of the hops are grown with no pesticides to meet European Union regulations.

Then we went through Toppenish, to the Haas Golding Farms where experimental hop varieties are grown and brewed into beer in a smaller facility. Beer and ale production is operated with continuing trials of new varieties. 

Afterwards, we drove to the Cawley home where we had lunch and tasted some beers and ales made with Hass hops.

Gratitud Single Hill Brewing Harvest Lager - Bright gold colored, this presents a frothy head and aromas of apple, hay and citrus. The flavors are fresh and well textured with grains intermixed with varied hops, followed by a long, crisp finish (4.8% ABV).

PFriem Hood River Lager - This features a light amber color, moderate froth and a citrusy nose of mown grass and hop buds. The flavors are brisk and juicy on the palate, with a lively dry finish (5% ABV).

Haas Hazy Pale Ale - Made with HBC638 experimental hops, this shows a slightly hazy gold color, frothy bubbles and thick barley flavors, marked by sweet-dry hops. The ale livens up with a twist of lemon zest on the finish (5% ABV).

Fat Head Brewing "Bonehead" Double Hopped Red Ale - This displays a deep amber-copper color and rich, smoky aromas of cherry, blood orange and smoke. The flavors are deliciously juiced, with copious sweet-dry hops, followed by a long finish (9% ABV).

At home in Walla Walla, we tried these ales from the Bale Breaker Brewery in Moxee in the Yakima Valley.

Bale Breaker Field 41 Pale Ale - From a single hop field, this shows an amber-gold color and aromas of barley and citrus and flavors of bittersweet hops, multigrain bread and orange peel, followed by a dry finish. (5.2% ABV).

Bale Breaker "Skyward" India Pale Ale - Brilliant gold colored, this shows a frothy cap and aromas of barleycorn and citrus, with medium high hopped flavors of grains and citrus, followed by a slightly fruited dry finish (6.5% ABV).

Bale Breaker "Topcutter" IPA - This presents a deep amber color, a frothy cap and aromas of barleycorn and citrus with well hopped flavors of grain bread and orange peel, followed by a bracing sweet-dry finish. (6.2% ABV).

Bale Breaker "Hazy L" Hazy IPA - Hazy amber colored, this shows aromas of mown grass and lemon peel, with brisk, copious flavors of Citra and othernhops, followed by a piercing yet smooth finish (6.5% ABV).