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Monday, November 5th 2012

Fresh Off the Hop Farm
(Q & A with Bale Breaker Brewing)

Any brewer will tell you that fresh beer is best and when it comes to hoppy beers, the fresher the better. With that in mind, you propably can't get much fresher than having your brewery located in the middle of a hop field, right? Well, that is just where Washington State's Bale Breaker Brewing Company is setting up shop and where they plan to brew and can their beers in the coming months. We caught up with Bale Breaker's Meghann Quinn in order to find out more about the brewery and what we can expect in the near future. Cheers Meghann! 

(CC) Tell us a little about Bale Breaker Brewing Company?

(BBBC) Bale Breaker Brewing Company is a new brewery starting up in the heart of the nation’s hop country, Yakima, Washington, by fourth-generation hop growers and siblings, Meghann Quinn, Kevin Smith, and Patrick Smith, and Meghann’s husband, Kevin Quinn. The Yakima Valley is responsible for producing about 75% of the nation’s hop crop each year, and our family has been growing hops on land in this area since 1932, the year before Prohibition ended. Now, 80 years later, our love of hops and passion for craft beer has led us to where we are today – in the midst of building a craft brewery surrounded by our family’s hop fields, just down the road from where we were born and raised.

hops are harvested on the family hop farm

(CC) For those that might not know, where did the name "Bale Breaker" come from? 

(BBBC) When hops leave the farm, they are packaged in 200 pound, burlap-wrapped bales. Hop processing companies then use a specialized piece of equipment, called a bale breaker, to break apart these compressed bales of hops before sending them into the pelletizing machine. Not only did we think Bale Breaker was a cool name for a brewery, it’s fitting for us since our family has spent 80 years sending bales off to other breweries who have effectively “broken” those bales in order to make great beer. Now, it’s our turn!

"Not only did we think Bale Breaker was a cool name for a brewery, it’s fitting for us since our family has spent 80 years sending bales off to other breweries who have effectively “broken” those bales in order to make great beer. Now, it’s our turn!"

Bale Brewing Company taking shape

(CC) In a crowded world of great craft beers, what makes Bale Breaker's beers special?

(BBBC) Many of the great craft beers in the marketplace today showcase Yakima Valley hops, but none have such a close connection to a hop farm as Bale Breaker does, with the hops literally being grown in our backyard. We hope that our unique story and long family history of hop farming will make people take notice and want to try our beer initially, but we know that what’s in the pint and can has to truly stand out in order for people to want more. Our handcrafted, hop-forward ales will feature the world-class hops grown in the Yakima Valley with loads of hop aroma and flavor in each glass.



(CC) Which of your beers will you be canning and when will they be released?

(BBBC) We will be canning our two flagship beers – Topcutter IPA and Field 41 Pale Ale. Our production facility is currently under construction, but we’re optimistic our cans will be released during the 1st quarter of 2013.

(CC) Where will folks be able to find your beers?

(BBBC) To begin, our distribution footprint will be fairly local, concentrated primarily in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. At some point, we hope to enter the Seattle market, but we’ll wait to see what the demand is like before making that decision.

(CC) We love the designs on the cans. Who is responsible for those?

(BBBC) Thanks! We had the help of the talented folks at Taphandles in Seattle, WA in designing our cans.


(CC) Speaking of designs. The hop in your logo has the number 41 in it. What is that about?

(BBBC) Our brewery is being built in the middle of hop field #41 on our family’s hop farm, so the 41 in our logo is a nod to our roots. Three acres of Cascades in field #41 were sacrificed in the name of craft beer!

(CC) What made you choose cans over bottles? What do you tell people about that choice?

(BBBC) Not only do we feel that cans are the best package for beer quality, we love how easy it is to pack cans in for a day on the ski hill or a weekend camping trip. Beyond that, the recyclability of aluminum played into our decision to can as well.

imagine what this smells like...

(CC) What are some of the best things about being located in the Yakima Valley? Of course there are the hops, but what else?

(BBBC) It’s the hops, for sure! Wine tourism in the Yakima Valley (also known as the Columbia Valley) has really picked up over the past decade, but hops are really this area’s heart and soul. The Yakima Valley has been a premier hop growing region since the late-1800’s, but very few breweries call the area home. Since wineries are often built in a vineyard, we think it’s time for a brewery to be built on a hop farm!

But, besides the hops, Yakima is also known for great weather (self-proclaimed as “The Palm Springs of Washington”) and a central location in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. We’re a short drive to the top beer cities of Seattle, Portland, and Spokane. We hope folks from around the area take advantage of Yakima’s great location and come tour the brewery and hop farm this summer!

(CC) What are some things that people might not know about Bale Breaker Brewing?

(BBBC) We’re all die-hard University of Washington Husky fans. All six of us (the three siblings and our significant others) received our undergraduate degrees from UW in Seattle. We’ll know the brewery has made it when we have a “Bale-gater” RV parked outside Husky Stadium every home football game! Additionally, we’re very passionate about ALS research and finding treatments and a cure for this terrible disease, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. We look forward to our brewery being an outlet to raise awareness and funds to fight ALS.

The Bale Breaker crew (Meghann Quinn, Kevin Smith, Patrick Smith, and Kevin Quinn)

Posted by Russ