As part of the 2019 northern hemisphere hop harvest we joined Bintani as they travelled to the US to make their final selections from the Autumn crops. We headed north from Portland, Oregon to the Yakima Valley in Washington State just after the competition of the harvest and were granted a rare insight into the wonderful world of hop breeding and development and the process by which the harvested fresh hops are assessed and then selected before being processing.
Virgil Gamache Farms, more popularly known as VGF is a leading hop grower in Toppenish in the Yakima Valley. The Gamache family began farming back in 1913 on what was then called Sunshine Ranch. The first crops were wheat, corn, potatoes, apples grapes and alfalfa. When Prohibition ended in 1932 the family set straight to growing hops but it wasn’t until the late 1990’s when a chance discovery of some independently growing ‘wild’ hops were rescued from destruction. In the spirit of an old Wireless Radiola Series, that hop grew up to become Amarillo.
Darren Gamache is the current steward of the family farming legacy and in this chat he shares the history of the farm and its buildings as well as the ways in which the hop industry and the craft beer industry have flourished together in the last decade. We dive into the true story of the accidental discovery of the hop which made the business famous and discuss the growing relationship between farmers and brewers which is helping to highlight the fact that beer is, at its core, an agricultural product.
Bintani provides a wide and varied range of products to assure that brewers can make the best beers for you to enjoy and we thank them for helping us to bring you stories like this one as well.
Enjoy the conversation.
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