The fresh, pungent smell of hops permeates the air in parts of the city (of Yakima) at certain times of the year, usually in the springtime.

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If you haven't heard (for the umpteenth time) by now, the Yakima Valley region produces about 75% of the country's hops. This means America wouldn't be the same without the farmworkers and orchard families who help pick those fresh hops right off the vines and get them prepared for beer brewing. I raise a glass of beer to each of thee!

I first moved to Central Washington in March of 2002. I remember moving here and thinking, "Wow, this place STINKS!" figuratively speaking of course. I broke down one day and complained to a friend about it. That's when I was informed that the smell was that of local factories processing the hops that eventually get turned into beer.

"That smell means that beer is coming soon," my friend said.

"Ohhh," I exclaimed, "well, in that case, I LOVE that nasty smell!"

One way the Valley celebrates the ripening and harvesting of hops is by attending the Fresh Hop Ale Fest, created by some of my friends from Allied Arts a few years ago. I remember attending one of the very first Fresh Hop Fests, and I think I still have my volunteer t-shirt around here somewhere. Our drink script eventually turned into drink tokens (and then back to scrip which is used presently).

This year, I am hoping to see the Fresh Hop Ale Festival include Mètier Brewing and other vendors owned by regional craft brewers of underrepresented groups

If you want to attend the festival, which has become such a large event that this year it will be hosted at the SOZO Complex, check out the info below to get your ticket! Craft breweries from around the region will be selling their wares to thirsty folks who come from as far away as the other side of the country to attend. Fresh Hop Ale Festival was recently declared one of the top 10 beer festivals in the United States and some of the proceeds of ticket sales go to fund local community grants.

WHAT: Fresh Hop Ale Festival, a 21+ Up Only Event

WHEN: Saturday, October 2, 2021

WHERE: SOZO Sports Complex, 2200 S. 36th Ave, Yakima

COST: Tuesday, June 8th at 8 a.m. at FreshHopAleFestival.com. General Admission: $50; VIP: $95

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