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Meet the hop supplier behind your favorite Bothell craft beers

Sip on the delicious craft beers from McMenamins, 20 Corners, Triplehorn, and other Bothell and Woodinville breweries, and you’ll be savoring the taste of hops from farms with deep, centuries-old heritages.

Meet Yakima Chief Hops, the global company bringing these rich hops to your glass.

Originally created by two hop suppliers with customers from around the world and within the U.S. in the 1990s, Yakima Chief Hops (YCH) is now collectively owned by 15 different family hop farms from across the Pacfic Northwest. Its oldest multigenerational farm dates as far back as 1869, when the first hop yards were planted in the area.

“Having grower-owned farms creates a unique perspective, where the passion and management of the farms is similar to the passion you find in breweries across the PNW,” said Robert Merollis, a YCH regional sales manager who specializes in Washington state breweries.

YCH does so much more than receiving, processing, selling, and shipping hops to breweries across the globe. It has created programs that monitor hop quality at farms, conduct lab analysis on products, and pioneer new valuable hop solutions for the brewhouse, said Cait Schut, YCH’s Public Relations and Corporate Communications Manager. And when it comes to working with brewers themselves, identifying the best hops for their beers is a highly personalized process.

“Each customer is different and potentially uses different product ‘types’ or methods of brewing,” Robert said. “Each interaction varies, but is centered around helping breweries achieve their goals.” 

It’s a soup-to-nuts approach — or hops-to-beer, in this case.

“We make a commitment to provide the most sustainably produced hop products to brewers that they know were produced with the best interest of our communities, environment and planet in mind,” Cait shared.

One of the unique initiatives YCH takes pride in is its employee-inspired Community Blends program. Its Pink Boots Blend was specifically created in honor of a YCH sales staff member who’s a member of the Pink Boots Society (PBS), a nonprofit organization that encourages women in the beer industry to advance their careers through education. Every year, YCH staff and PBS members work together to develop a new, limited edition seasonal blend. The result: A handpicked recipe that’s available to commercial and home brewers, with a portion of the proceeds dedicated to PBS scholarship funds.

YCH’s Veterans Blend is inspired by its military veteran employees and created in collaboration with veteran-owned breweries, in honor of those in all branches of the U.S. military. YCH partners with a different nonprofit organization that supports the veteran community every year through its exclusive hops blend.

Since its inception, Yakima Chief Hops has been incredibly passionate about sharing the stories and roots of the family farms that grow their hops. “Together with our brewing community, we are working to create something bigger than beer,” Cait said.

So the next time you enjoy a few beer flights from Bothell and Woodinville breweries, take a second to appreciate the hops — you might be tasting the exceptional flavors of the farms of Yakima Chief Hops.

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Photos courtesy of Yakima Chief Hops.

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