2022 YCH Hop Selection

With the 2021 Harvest behind us and 2021 Crop Year Products already heading into the market, our team is excited to begin planning 2022 Harvest and Selection.  In 2021, we held more than 300 in-person selections in Yakima.  PNW Growers harvested around 8 million more pounds of hops than in 2020.  At YCH, we received 44 different varieties of hops from more than 50 growers in the Pacific Northwest.  Since the beginning of harvest, our operations team has been busy setting production records, processing around 1.5 million more pounds in the month of September than in the previous September of 2020. Our stellar crew has already completed production of T90 pellets for all domestic received volumes, and they are 70% complete with the production of Cryo Hops® pellets. As production wraps up, we eagerly set our eyes on the 2022 Harvest and Selection.

Hop Selection at Yakima Chief Hops is more than the exhilarating task of brewers finding the perfect hops to define the flavor and aroma of their beers for the brewing year to come.  Hop Selection is genuinely an interdepartmental quality program for our company.  It is the epitome of supporting our mission to connect our family farms with the world’s finest brewers.  Hop Selection is a data-driven brewer specification and continuous improvement program that we, as a company, apply across farms, procurement, receiving teams, lab/sensory data, and throughout production. The invaluable data gained throughout the Selection season benefits the entire brewing community, even if they are not eligible to participate in Selection. Because of Selection’s broad-reaching implications, Covid-19 couldn’t (and wouldn’t) stand in the way of these objectives.   

Selection 2020 was a 100% virtual experience, while Selection 2021 was a hybrid season, with both in-person and mailed Selection sessions occurring simultaneously.  Similar to the experience of many of our brewing customers, the pandemic ushered the need to be creative to keep Selection a possibility.  We were able to do so primarily because of our web-based Selection app, which not only facilitates the backend of Selection but also transmits brewer feedback to our growers.  But now, we’re approaching a 2022 Selection Season that we’re hoping will be wholly focused on returning to the essence of the Selection experience – the pilgrimage to the Yakima Valley. 

While we continue to expand the virtual reach of our farm tours and grower highlights, the experience of being in Yakima during hop harvest is unmatched. Walking through the hop fields on a tour led by a proud grower, plucking a cone off the bine to break open and sniff, learning about our supply chain, and meeting more members of our Yakima Chief family – these are the experiences that make the pilgrimage the sacred part of Hop Selection.  The tacos, the sweeping mountain views, the camaraderie, the late nights at our favorite dive bar – none of this is part of the experience when cores are mailed.   

Paul Kreiner of Noon Whistle Brewing recently reflected on his harvest experiences, “I can tell you going out to selection and seeing the terroir as well as the process of picking hops does not stand up to doing selection in the brewery. Doing selection at the brewery brings too many people into the process. You can isolate yourself with your team when you go out to selection, have debates about your current beers and make the correct decisions on the hops you want for the future of your business. This is one of the most vital times of our business, being a hop-forward brewery, we are controlling the flavors that we put into our beers. Plus you get to talk with other breweries that are out in selection and talk to the wonderful staff at YCH!”

Allowing us to truly connect you, the world’s finest brewers, with our growers is at the core of everything we do, but it is especially prevalent in our Hop Selection Program.  Joe Mohrfeld of Pinthouse Pizza rotates his team out annually.  “For us in person selection is so valuable because we can use the time to visit the farmers, tour the facilities, learn about advancements being made on the farms and processing facilities, and also how those advancements will impact us. Working closely with the YCH team in person has been great over the years as well because we are able to provide immediate feedback on the hops we are evaluating and work with them to find the hops that will work best for our beers. With the data collected over the years, the YCH team has done a great job of tailoring our selection to our desired flavor and aroma profiles of each hop while always adding hops they think we may be interested in and outside of our typical profile. Seeing the farms, working with the YCH employees, and being around for the harvest adds a much more personal connection to the hops we are using every year in our beer and inspires our team to push our brewing boundaries to showcase these hops,” Mohrfeld said.

As our teams are actively planning for Selection 2022, we encourage you to do the same.  If you’re a longstanding Selection customer, review eligibility to ensure you’re on track and get your travel plans on the books! Please reach out to your sales representatives if you would like to be a first-time visitor to the Yakima Valley.