For more than 30 years, Yakima Chief Hops and Yakima Chief Ranches have shared a unique and cohesive partnership. The two companies work together as one to create a robust hop supply chain designed to satisfy brewers’ insatiable appetite for quality hops, while supporting the Pacific Northwestern community of family hop farms. This partnership creates a strong connection, from breeder to grower to supplier to brewer, and supports our mission of connecting family farms with the world’s finest brewers.
While similar in name, Yakima Chief Hops (YCH) and Yakima Chief Ranches (YCR) are different companies with two distinct roles in a collective supply chain. The YCH-YCR partnership is designed to create value from propagation to pint, across the entire supply chain to meet the long-term needs of all stakeholders.
Who is Yakima Chief Ranches?
Yakima Chief Ranches is a grower-owned, integrated botanicals and brand-management company, specializing in breeding innovative and renowned hop varieties as well as hop farming best practices. YCR’s purpose is to develop, grow and protect the value of first class hop varieties, while relentlessly pursuing quality and driving the industry standard. YCR aims to build meaningful relationships with growers and brewers that are responsive and mutually beneficial. YCR is also a member of Hop Breeding Company (HBC), a research and development organization committed to breeding and releasing premium hop brands.
How do we work together?
Hop Sensory Evaluation
Every spring, Yakima Chief Hops and Yakima Chief Ranches assembles a highly qualified team to carry out raw hop sensory panels. Samples from Hop Breeding Company’s (HBC) single hill plots, seven hill plots, and from advanced lines, are evaluated for color, resin, aroma, and overall impression. All of the data collected from these panels factor into the decision of whether or not those hops will be selected for advancement in the program.
In addition to sensory analysis, YCH and YCR work together with YCH’s brewery customers to collect data on how the hop varieties in the advanced stages of the breeding program perform in various beer styles. The Sales team at YCH gathers a wide range of brewery customers to trial a new experimental variety. Brewers are encouraged to get creative with each new variety, using them as replacements in current recipes or developing new recipes unique to the experimental variety. Brewers agree to take notes and provide feedback to YCH, which is then compiled and delivered to YCR for evaluation. These experimental trials provide YCR with a wealth of insight, helping them distinguish which varieties deserve a permanent place in their portfolio.
Footprints® is Yakima Chief Ranches’ (YCR) comprehensive brand management program of standards and practices that ensure our hops are grown and harvested with the highest levels of consistency, purity and excellence.
"The best fertilizer is a farmer’s footprints in the field." – Yakima Chief Ranches
Each year, YCR’s team walks thousands of acres to improve varietal purity and quality, working tirelessly with growers to make sure Yakima Chief Hops (and by extension, brewers) can be confident that they are receiving a unique, quality beer ingredient. The YCR interns alone walk an average of 55 miles per week – that’s 110,000 footprints – through thousands of acres of hops. The areas of focus within YCR’s Footprints® program include varietal purity, crop management, harvest quality, traceability and food safety.
The proprietary varieties that we supply to brewers are managed by Yakima Chief Ranches and are monitored through the Footprints® program. These varieties include Simcoe®, Citra®, Mosaic® and Loral®. While it can be more labor intensive, this ensures that these hop brands that have gained a reputation for their quality flavor and aroma characteristics continue to meet the expectations of our brewing customers with every brew.
To learn more about the Footprints® and download a copy of their semi-annual report, visit their website at: www.yakimachiefranches.com/footprints/