American Bine: The Northwest United States’ Famous Crop
As summer fades and the Pumpkin Spice Latte once again holds residence in a coffee shop near you, farmers in Yakima Valley take to the hop fields. As harvest begins, the vivid and bold aromas float through air and fill every nose with fragrance. Scents like rich pine and strong citrus and potent dank wrap their way around the valley, marking the turn of the season and the budding excitement of a new crop of hops.
There is more to Yakima Valley than the vibrant scents of hops that hang heavy in the early autumn air. There is the fertile soil that is perfect for the long growth period of hops. The ideal 200+ days of sunshine throughout the year that feeds the hops as they grow, capturing the sunlight in their leaves and converting its rays into golden Humulus oils. To top off this hop paradise are the nearby Yakima and Columbia Rivers. They aid in irrigation efforts to keep the hops well-watered throughout the growing season. These were all things New York farmer Charles Carpenter noticed as he arrived in Yakima in 1868 and set up the valley’s first hop farm. Now, over 150 years later, Yakima is the king hop producer in the United States, and with Oregon and Idaho combined, these three regions grow nearly 100% of the United States’ hops. It’s these domestic regions that produce more hops than anywhere in the world, with Germany as a close second.
Much like a candy store, the United States has a large range of hop varieties for wide-eyed brewers to choose. They range from brewer’s classic sweethearts Cascade and Centennial, to the exciting new varieties like El Dorado®, Cashmere, Triumph, and Zappa™. With such a variety of varieties, brewers get an equally wide range of beer styles to brew American hops. Take Citra® for example. Arguably one of the most popular hops in the craftbrewing industry today, Citra thrives in American wheat beers, pale ales, IPAs Belgian-style ales, and has been known to complement those tart Brettanomyces ferments. Or look at Zappa™, which finds its purpose in hazy or milkshake IPAs, fruited sours, pale ales, American strong ales, and wild or mixed-fermentation beers. With several dozen hop varieties that come from the United States, brewers have no limit to what they can create with domestic hops.
Keep up to date with this year’s hop harvest, domestic and foreign, during BSG’s Virtual Humulus U 2021, going from September 21st and 23rd to September 28th and 30th. Watch our homepage and sign up for our newsletters for upcoming Humulus U 2021 information!