Mutineers JJ Bagley and Alan Kropf will be heading up to Washington this coming weekend to attend and judge the Yakima Valley Fresh Hop Ale Festival. Jessica Moskwa, Executive Director of the event, tells us what the event is all about:
What is the Fresh Hop Ale Fest all about?
The Festival is about high quality craft beer, a special brew created in a unique location on the planet (the center of the US hop industry!), under a Yakima night sky buzzing with music, food, and friends.
How has the festival grown throughout the years?
Since we’re the home of America’s first post-prohibition brewpub (the now defunct Grant’s), we wanted to celebrate a crop that is so important to our Valley while throwing a great party to raise money for the arts. Its first year (2003) saw great support, and we’ve steadily added features like the homebrew contest (2007), brewer’s dinners (2007), a cigar tent (2006), a 30 minute TV program (2006), and much more. We’re now up to sixteen breweries hailing from Montana to California!
Does your organization do any other beer related events?
Usually when it comes to beer, one is never enough, but in our case, this festival is certainly enough work for our small organization. It takes us a whole year to plan, with a dedicated committee of 20+ members, plus 200 volunteers on site the night of the event. All this effort is to raise a significant portion of the annual budget for Allied Arts organization in Yakima. We use the monies to create free arts programs for children & families in our communities, so you’re drinking for a good cause!
What is the most exciting part of the event this year?
I especially look forward to the homebrew contest & the brewer’s dinners prior to the event. Both introduce new people to the nuances of craft beer, and craft beer enthusiasts. At the festival itself, I love the increased participation from brewers and their dedication to Fresh Hop Ale. Plus, the first local brewery since Grant’s closed its doors is making its Fresh Hop Ale debut. Go Yakima Craft!
How important is this region for the production of craft beer?
Hop Union, a longtime event supporter, supplies hops to an extensive list of craft breweries, and even ships fresh hops overnight to Chico (Sierra Nevada) for their Fresh Hop Ale. Since hops are a worldwide industry, the quality of our crop here affects breweries worldwide. We’re a proud supporter of the industry, and hope to be a destination event for beer & hop lovers and producers all over the globe.