Hop Harvest Hootenannies | Craft Beer & Brewing

Hop Harvest Hootenannies

Anywhere they pick lots of hops, they also throw a shindig. Plan your travel schedule accordingly. Don't worry: They'll have beer.

Joe Stange 2 months ago

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It’s harvest time. You can almost smell it. Actually, you can smell it, wafting across the fields and down local streets, if you’re lucky enough to live in one of those hop-growing corners of the world.

If you don’t live in one of those regions, consider a pilgrimage. But when to go? That’s easy. You go when they’re throwing a party. What better way to celebrate your favorite ingredient? What better excuse to go somewhere and drink fresh-hopped beers?

Here are some of the world’s biggest hop-harvest hoolies, when they take place, and what you might expect to find there.

Hood River Hops Fest

When: September 22, 2019

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Where: Hood River, Oregon

On the border between the Oregon and Washington hops-growing areas, and across the street from the Full Sail and Double Mountain breweries, this family-friendly event brings more than forty brewers with more than sixty fresh-hopped ales, plus food and live music.

Portland Fresh Hops Festival

When: September 27–28, 2019

Where: Portland, Oregon

Featuring “The Cone Wars,” when each Oregon hops farm teams up with a different brewer on a fresh-hopped collaboration beer. The crowd picks the winners. Kids are allowed on Saturday, though they might be more interested in Oaks Amusement Park next door. Proceeds go to the Oregon Brewers Guild.

Kent Green Hop Beer Fortnight

When: September 27–October 13, 2019

Where: Kent, England

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One weekend is not enough for fresh Kentish hops, so they get fourteen days. Things kick off at the Canterbury Food & Drink Fair, with forty-plus fresh-hopped beers from more than thirty of the county’s breweries. Festivities continue at various breweries and pubs in the region, including another food fest in Broadstairs and a beer-festival-on-rails, starting in a Victorian train shed and continuing on the trains themselves.

Empire Hops & Harvest Festival

When: October 4–5

Where: Empire, Michigan

When it comes to American hops harvests, the Pacific Northwest doesn’t get to have all the fun. This village affair near the lakeshore, organized by the local Chamber of Commerce, begins with a pig roast and includes live music with plenty of locally hopped local beer.

Fresh Hop Ale Festival

When: October 5, 2019

Where: Yakima, Washington

If you want to celebrate American hops, the valley that produces about 75 percent of them might be the place to go. There are sixty-five participating breweries this year, plus a homebrewing competition for fresh-hopped ales; the rule is, the beer must be hopped with the 2019 crop and nothing else. If you go a day early, check out the Fresh Hops Party thrown by hops dealer Yakima Valley Hops. Beer, live music, and free smells abound.

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Hoptober Freshtival

When: October 12, 2019

Where: Boise, Idaho

Boise Brewing hosts Idaho’s biggest fresh-hops fest, featuring sixty-plus beers from more than thirty local and regional breweries. Play games, meet farmers, eat fried octopus balls, drink beer, repeat.

Single, Fresh, Wet & Wild Hop Harvest Festival

When: October 19, 2019

Where: Chico, California

Hosted by Sierra Nevada in their own hops field, more than fifty breweries from across the country bring their fresh-hopped creations. The festival also features talks by brewers, lots of food, and live party music by Amo Amo.

More to Consider for Next Year

These events have already happened this year, but it’s not too early to start planning for 2020—especially since the European harvest fests tend to happen a few weeks earlier.

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Kauer Hopfenfest

When: Mid-August

Where: Tettnang, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Visit beautiful Lake Constance, see the coronation of a hops queen, drink lots of beer, and have friendly strangers come and ask you how in the hell you found out about their local festival.

Hallertauer Volksfest

When: Late August

Where: Wolnzach, Bavaria, Germany

Visit the beautiful Hallertau, see the coronation of a hops queen, drink lots of beer, and visit the German Hops Museum.

Žatecká Dočesná (Saaz Hop Harvest Festival)

When: Early September

Where: Žatec, Bohemia, Czechia

Enjoy live music, folklore, dancing, arts and crafts, games for kids, medieval follies, a streetball tournament, and loads and loads of beautiful Czech lager.

Poperinge Hoppefeesten

When: September 18–20, 2020

Where: Poperinge, West Flanders, Belgium

In the heart of Belgium’s hops-growing area, this is a triennial event—that’s right, once every three years—that includes a parade, plenty of folklore, tours through the Poperinge Hop Museum, and, of course, loads and loads of beautiful Belgian ales.

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