A few weeks ago, we announced the release of the song “Ballad of Fort Road,” written and performed by Cody Beebe and The Crooks. This lyrical dedication pays tribute to Tom Carpenter, Jr., fourth generation hop grower of Carpenter Ranches, and the hop growing families who have fought to keep the farms going during some of the most challenging years in the industry.
Ballad of Fort Road touches hearts across the supply chain, from the workers in the hop fields to the customers in the taprooms, as it celebrates the hop growers that make great beer possible. Their hard work, passion and grit have allowed the great legacy of family hop farms to continue and have enriched the beer community with the highest quality aromas and flavors.
Cody Beebe and The Crooks recorded the song live in a hop kiln at Carpenter Ranches, and the music video can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/NJHl9ODTHZg *Guaranteed to give you goosebumps from beginning to end.*
We reached out to a few important contributors to this song to share their thoughts and feelings:
Cody Beebe, author of Ballad of Fort Road, lead singer and guitarist of Cody Beebe and The Crooks
In 2013, we had a tough conversation with our original band member and hand percussionist, Joe Catron, where he let us know he was stepping away from touring with the band to join a hop company and pursue his dreams in the craft brewing industry. Little did we know that this company, Yakima Chief Hops, would become close friends of our band. Over the next few years, we played concerts at their farms during harvest, traveled to beer conventions with them, and helped tell their story with our video company, Digital Vendetta. Along the way, I grew to know some of the farmers personally and formed an immense respect for them as people.
In early 2019, YCH’s CEO, Ryan Hopkins, brought up the idea of writing a "Ballad of Fort Road," honoring the growers that have pioneered the hop industry and supply global breweries with the best quality hops. After his initial idea, the song basically wrote itself in a little less than an hour. Although the song centers on Fort Road in the Yakima Valley, I wanted to make sure to pay tribute to the areas in Oregon and Idaho that are also vital to the hop industry.... and as an ultimate goal, I wanted to pay tribute to Northwest farming community as a whole, no matter what industry. As a culture, we eat and drink their products every day, but often overlook the sacrifices they make to ensure we have what we need. It means a lot to us to be included in the Yakima Chief Hops extended family and to honor these amazing families and what they've done to make great beer possible!
Brad Carpenter, fifth generation hop grower at Carpenter Ranches
Cody and the group did a great job in this video incapsulating the struggles and wonders, past and present, of American hop growing families. The rugged resolve to endure hard times is a common thread amongst us farmers. If you ever have a chance, sit down with a hop grower, and listen to their stories of family, employees, persistence, and the glue of love that kept them together.
My Dad, Tom Carpenter, Jr., and a tenacious group of others, had the determination to hold onto a vision where families farming hops would connect with the brewers. That vision is still being born out today with that same spirit of resilience and innovation from our heritage as we “raise a glass to generations past.”
Steve Carpenter, Chief Supply Chain Officer at Yakima Chief Hops
The ballad is a testimony to Pacific Northwest hop growers and their employees who strive to produce hops that will make great beer. But it is much more than that also. It’s a story of perseverance, embracing challenges, and neighbors helping neighbors. All successful visions need a champion who believes that anything is possible. My father always said, “Don’t let people tell you what you can’t do…show them that you can.” Cody Beebe was able to capture that spirit perfectly in the Ballad of Fort Road.
We are pleased to share this song with the global brewing community and invite you to share it with your colleagues and customers to show appreciation for the hop growers who have stood by us through the ups and downs of this industry. Ballad of Fort Road is just one more way we hope to connect brewers with family farms, as it inspires growers and field workers to reminisce over memories on the farm and reminds brewers of the story of where their beer began.
Brewers, turn up the volume and let this anthem of the hop fields radiate throughout the brewhouse. Let’s raise a glass to generations past, down on Fort Road.