- Oct 26 '16
Michael Ferguson visits the Yakima Valley in Washington State, where 75 percent of America’s hops are grown. His tour guide is Doug MacKinnon, owner of 47Hops, which buys hops from growers, processes them, and sells them to brewers.
First, Doug takes Michael to meet Graham Gamache of Cornerstone Ranches, who raises and processes hops. He show Michael how it’s done – from harvesting the vine-clinging plants with a top-cutter mounted on a truck, to the cleaning process in a 60 year old building filled with Rube Goldberg-esque devices such as dribbles and fontaines, to a huge hangar sized building that serves as a kiln, to a baling operation that has employees literally sewing 200 pounds of hops into a fabric casing.
Then it’s on to Roy Farms, where they pelletize as much as 7 million pounds of hops each harvest. VP Jim Boyd, an old friend of Michael, walks him through the steps - turning the hops into flakes and the flakes into pellets, then boxing them - within 48 hours of leaving the fields.
Of course, the reason we are so interested in hops is their primary role in making beer. Doug takes Michael to see his fiends (and clients) at Sound Brewery, where Michael Helps brew up a batch of Monk’s Indiscretion – an unusual beer in that it's a Belgian ale but hopped like a double IPA. And yet careful brewing and hop selection (Doug’s of course) keeps it from being a hop bomb – suffused with hop flavor and aroma, but without the bitterness.
Next, Michael helps chef Angela Ornelas do some cooking with Sound’s Poundage Porter. Together they make pulled pork sliders with the beer in virtually every step of the dish – including mole.
And finally, it’s time to do some eating and drinking at a fabulous pairing dinner featuring Angela’s cooking – ceviche, those sliders, and beer marinated flank steak – and three of Sound Brewery’s beers – Dubbel Entendre Belgian ale, Poundage Porter, and Monks Indiscretion. The food was great. As were the beers. And the pairings. And the entire visit to the home of Americas hops.