Washington makes the Best Beer Ever
Fresh Hops for All
Did you know that the dry climate and perfect amount of sunlight in the Yakima Valley creates the perfect conditions for growing the best hops around? Brad Carpenter of Carpenter Ranch gave us here at Washington Grown an inside look at how Washington’s amazing growing conditions truly make the best beer.
Not only does Carpenter Ranch grow the essential ingredient for the freshest beer, Brad and his brother, Mike, process the hops for a variety of different uses. At their plant, the Carpenters turn those fresh hops into pellets, which is typically what most brewers use to flavor their beer. However, for “the fresh hop beer, they take the hops themselves, and they’ll take the bag of these directly, and they’ll pour it right into their vat,” explained Brad. The fresh hops create the “yellow looking stuff” in brew, also known as lupulin, ”that has all the essential oils that bring flavoring to beer,” said Brad.
Many are surprised to find out just how different hops are than the typical Washington crop. “First, make sure you have a big, strong trellis to support the weight of that hop, because that plant grows about 18 feet, and it spreads out another four or five feet,” explained Brad. “A string goes all the way to the wire, and that’s where the vine grows around that string, all the way up to the top. It’s a great plant, a very prolific plant. I mean, to grow 18 feet every year? Unbelievable.”
Back at their processing unit, we also got to see how the hops are dried right on site. To start our tour, we walked through the plant where hops were being clean and separated. Hops are typically dried in a kiln “We then take them to the processing unit where they’re pelletized.” Drying the hops out for about eight hours maintains the integrity of the lupulin glands. “That’s what the brewers want,” said Mike.
The Carpenters’ hops go into everything from lager to ale, giving these beers their distinct flavor. However, for brews that require fresh hops, in order to really catch the flavor of the hops, the brothers have to ensure that they get from field to brew in 24 hours. “We’re excited about being involved in the hops industry,” the brothers explained. “It’s a lot of fun. A lot of work, but a lot of fun.”
Innovation within the hops industry has changed over the years. “Science and technology are amazing,” Brad explained. “It’s really a lot more technical than it was when I was a young man, and I think it’ll be different 20, 30, 40 years from now.”
“You know, that’s something my dad always says,” Mike said. “He said he’d give anything that my great-great-grandad would be able to come and see what we’ve done.”
To see the full story of the Carpenter Ranch click here.