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Ossie Bladine  |  obladine@newsregister.com

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OBG TRAVELS: Three Days in the Valley

Welcome to the hop capital of the world, Washington’s Yakima Valley. The area is so fertile, it accounts for about 75 percent of the country’s hop production. Surprisingly, Yakima, Wash. has not been the craft beer mecca you would expect, but local brewers are starting to change that. And at least once a year what feels like the entire industry turns its attention to this region when the hop harvest begins and culminates with the Yakima Fresh Hop Ale Festival. Here’s how to spend a weekend in the promised land for lupulin lovers.

 

 

FRIDAY
Generally the last Friday in September; this year Sept. 28.


7:00 p.m.  
Yakima Valley Hops & Chinook Fest: Yakima Fresh Hop Party
A most excellent way to kick off a weekend of dankness is with this fifth annual party put on by homebrew shop and hop suppliers Yakima Valley Hops. This event is so dank, if you lit up some bud everyone would mistake it for the scent of the kilning hops nearby. Last year this party lasted late into the night with three bands, food trucks and about two dozen breweries pouring their best fresh-hop beer.

12:30 a.m.  
Yakima Sports Center
The most legendary bar in town is where you’ll find half of the brewing community hanging out after hours. It looks like a generic country-western dive from the outside, except the neon marquee would be right at home along Nashville’s Honky Tonk Highway. The Sports Center is also one of the only places around open late. They usually have a sizable selection of craft beer and a lot of fresh-hop selections during the season. There’s no beer list, so glean what you can from the tap handles and rudimentary knowledge of the bartender.

 

 

 

SATURDAY


10:30 a.m.
Provisions Restaurant and Market

Your first order of business is laying down a bed of protein and fat to help absorb the alcohol that’s to come. Think of that first coffee as a reverse Black and Tan in your belly. Provisions is one of the nicer places to eat in town offering everything you’d want from a big city hippie bodega, including nitro coffee, gluten-free pastries and a salad bar. Go for something hefty like the salmon and avocado on a bagel or in a scramble.

 

 

Noon
Bale Breaker Brewing Company

The best brewery in the valley comes from a local hop farming family. Bale Breaker is located in a big industrial warehouse made to look like a red barn right in the middle of the fields. The pleasant but bare-bones tasting room also offers outdoor seating, yard games and is family and dog friendly. They don’t serve food, but there are often carts. Pick up some six-packs for your hotel room before you leave since there’s not a lot open late at night in Yakima.

 

2:30 p.m.
The Beer Shoppe

Yakima’s premier (and only?) bottle shop is just up the main strip near the festival. This joint is a quiet hangout for homebrewers and beer geeks, but hosts a ton of events during Fresh Hop Week. This is another opportunity to buy some bottles to go.

 

3:30 p.m.
Cowiche Canyon Kitchen & Ice House

This is a hip and large modern restaurant, grill, cocktail bar and taproom all in one. You are now loading up on food ahead of the beer fest, which is right around the corner. The steak salad will provide plenty of proteins and fresh greens and the made-to-order guac is filled with natural, healthy fats. The tap list is filled with local brews or you could opt for the hard stuff. Try the Northern Spy, which is a flip cocktail with rye whiskey, lemon juice, egg whites and Sprite.

 

5:00 p.m.
Yakima Fresh Hop Ale Festival

Voted as one of the top 10 beer festivals in the country, this is no doubt the showcase event. One of the appeals of this event is that it’s in the heart of a town that grows most of the hops that go into these beers, so everything is extremely fresh. The selection is superb and includes breweries from across Washington along with a few from Oregon and Idaho. Fair warning: this fest is a bit of a free-for-all. Some might even call it a shit show, but it’s a delightful shit show. Most of the beer is served by brewers who donated their batches, which means you’re getting giant pours. To avoid getting hammered, settle on a select few or don’t drink the entire sample and, sadly, give the rest to the ground so you can try more.

11 p.m. 
7-Eleven

This is the only place to get a bite late at night, but all the cool kids hang out at the convenience store near the highway off/on ramp. Peruse the selection of house-cured hot dogs that have been slow roasting for at least the last 24 hours. Pick out one that doesn’t look blistered or go for a frozen burrito that isn’t expired.

 

SUNDAY


10:30 a.m.
North Town Coffeehouse

You’re probably hungover, hungry and afraid to eat your 7-Eleven leftovers. Some fresh air and a coffee would do you good, so walk a few blocks to North Town. This shop with solid beverages, pastries and sandwiches is located in a historic train station.

 

Noon
Bron Yr Aur Brewing Co.

More fun than a tongue twister, Bron Yr Aur is a 20-minute drive northwest of town that’s worth it for the spectacular views alone. The hard-to-say name means “hill of gold” in Welsh and not actually a reference to the cottage in Wales where most of Led Zeppelin III was written. This brewery has an amazing patio and two different buildings with taprooms serving a wide variety of styles. They also make some pretty decent pizza.

 

2 p.m.
Tieton Cider Works

Slow down buddy, perhaps it’s time for a break from those hops because you’re looking a little green. How about an apple instead? Tieton is among the best cideries in the Pacific Northwest and proves the valley can grow more than just hop cones. The beverages range in flavor from sweet to dry and if you’re lucky they may have the Bourbon Peach available. Naturally because it’s hop country they also make a terrific Dry Hopped Cider.

3:30 p.m.
Hop Nation Brewing Company

Hop Nation is just across the tracks from North Town and provides a variety of beer styles, giving much attention to German and American pub faves. Nachos and buffalo sliders are recommended if your stomach is up for it.

 

5 p.m.
Single Hill Brewing

Yakima’s newest brewery opened in June with a veteran of Colorado’s Odell Brewing and Yakima Chief Hops. This is a hop-focused, community-driven operation. Drop in for a sampler tray.

 

6 p.m.
HopTown Wood Fired Pizza

Before you bid the valley adieu, make sure you’ve fully experienced HopTown by filling up on some wood-fired pies. This shop is on the way out of town and a local favorite. You can find traditional-style pizzas with local flair like Cascade hops sprinkled into the dough. HopTown also has their own hard cider called Frisky Seester that can’t be found anywhere else.

 

Stay
Hilton Garden Inn Yakima

What’s most important is proximity to drinking and eating. Hilton Garden Inn Yakima provides just that along with a patented Garden Sleep System bed.

 

 

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Yakima Sports Center
214 E. Yakima Ave., Yakima
509-453-4647  |  sportscenteryakima.com


Provisions Restaurant 
and Market
2710 Terrace Heights Drive, Yakima
509-452-8100  |  provisionsyakima.com


Bale Breaker Brewing Company
1801 Birchfield Road, Yakima
509-424-4000  |  balebreaker.com


The Beer Shoppe
302 W. Yakima Ave. #107, Yakima
509-453-5706  |  thebeershoppe.net


Cowiche Canyon Kitchen 
& Ice House
202 E. Yakima Ave., Yakima
509-457-2007  |  cowichecanyon.com


7-Eleven
810 E. Yakima Ave., Yakima
509-575-1473  |  7-eleven.com


North Town Coffeehouse
32 N. Front St., Yakima
509-895-7600  |  northtowncoffee.com


Hop Nation Brewing Company
31 N. First Ave., Yakima
509-367-6552  |  hopnationbrew.com


Bron Yr Aur Brewing Co.
12160 U.S. Hwy 12, Naches
509-653-1109  |  bronyraurbrewing.com


Tieton Cider Works
619 W. J St., Yakima
509-571-1430  |  tietonciderworks.com


Single Hill Brewing
102 N. Naches Ave., Yakima
509-367-6756  |  singlehillbrewing.com


HopTown Wood Fired Pizza
2560 Donald Wapato Road, Wapato
509-952-4414  |  hoptownpizza.com


Hilton Garden Inn Yakima
401 E. Yakima Ave.,Yakima
509-454-1111  |  hiltongardeninn3.hilton.com

 

 

 

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