by Jason Shrum
Every company, big or small, deserves a company outing...a Team Building experience if you will. Road Dog Tours is no exception. In order to relay the best information in the craft beer industry, we must emerge ourselves into it’s epicenter. This is where we rely heavily on the hard work and dedication of our R&D (Research & Drinking) team. These fine folks, minus the slacker on the right (see photo), are the reason Road Dog’s is able to provide such great service and great education. Earlier this month we were able to head down to Yakima Valley in southeastern Washington and get a look at a hop farm and processing center.
Bale Breaker Brewery was responsible for making this possible. While the brewery is located in their family’s hop field, #41, BaleBreaker Brewing Company is operated as a separate entity from all farming operations. The family’s farm, B.T. Loftus Ranches, is now in its fourth-generation of family ownership, with its daily operations managed by Patrick Smith and his parents Mike & Cheryl Smith. Established in 1932, B.T. Loftus Ranches Inc. is one of the Yakima Valley’s longest running hop farms. In 1920, the Loftus family moved to Moxee, WA in pursuit of work on the railroad and began farming a variety of crops and livestock. Twelve years later, B.T. and Leota Loftus, great- grandparents of Patrick, Meghann, and Kevin, established the family’s first five-acre hop farm. The farm is now involved with Select Botanicals Group and the Hop Breeding Company, growing 9 different varieties such as Cascade, Simcoe®, Citra®, and Mosaic®. Loftus Ranches is one of the largest growers for the craft beer industry, valuing quality, sustainability and innovation. They are dedicated to their craft and look forward to growing varieties that meet the needs of microbrewers for many years to come. We had a great time exploring the fields and even helping produce a fresh hopped beer with the family. The Top Cutter IPA was a personal favorite from Bale Breaker and we hope to see big things from them in the future.