There’s no mistaking it – you step outside and the smell of hops in the air tells you it’s September in Yakima, and here in hop country, it’s not business as usual. In fact, one could describe the shift that occurs during the month as seismic – not of course in a geologic sense that one would expect here in the realm of the Cascade volcanoes … but this shift is in brewing humanity. It would be a gross exaggeration to say that Yakima population doubles at harvest time, but it sure seems like it. Hundreds of visitors – brewers – descend on the area as part of a yearly trek to be one with the hops, for hops are not just an essential ingredient in beer making, but a destination.
Haas hosted about 150 brewers during the month – many that we’ve had here before – but also many who are new, visiting the hop fields and harvest for the first time. It’s encouraging to see the growing numbers, and that many brewers use the Yakima harvest visit as a training tool for their staff. For many know little of the story behind the hop and its role as a very special plant – and the excitement and celebration that accompanies harvest.
Preparations for the harvest influx of brewers went especially well for Haas this year. It’s challenging to arrange the farm, harvesting and processing tours, hop selections, and of course the beer tastings at our Haas Innovations Brewery. The days are long and it’s “all hands on deck” for Haas personnel in September, but we’re up to the task. It’s gratifying being an integral part of the brewing world no matter what the calendar says, but being the focal point in the universe of brewing for one month of the year…that’s especially rewarding.