I’ve just spent the week in Yakima, Washington, USA during hop harvest time. This is the third season I’ve visited specifically to immerse myself in all things that were happening with hops in the region at this time. It has been a busy week visiting hop farms, talking to hop growers, attending Hopunion’s Hop & Brew School, and tasting a few locally brewed IPA’s.
Hop selection has become an important part of the year for Epic Beer . Each year flying from Auckland, New Zealand to Yakima, WA, USA at the time the hops are harvested makes all the difference to the taste of our beer. We are one of just 90 brewers that select our hops from Hopunion LLC
Selection means you get the opportunity to be presented with a range of different “lots” of hops from different farms and growing areas where that specific variety is grown. From there you are able to select which lot is your preference. Not every brewer is able to do this, as there is a minimum contracted amount of 5000 lb (2272kg) per variety.
You may have heard about terroir in wine. Hops are exactly the same. The same variety can smell different based on where it is grown, and you can experience differences from season to season. This is pretty exciting and it does have an effect on the beer each season. Hence why it is important to be able to get the best hops you can.
Below are some photos showing hop bales, brewers cuts, hop selection, rubbing and smelling and very resinous sticky hands to finish.