Last week, a contingent from Founders Brewing Co., including Brewmaster Jeremy Kosmicki, were out in Yakima Valley, Wash., where they met with hop farmers to check out this year’s harvest and select the hops Founders will be brewing with in the coming year. To bring you an inside look at the hop harvest process, Kosmicki logged cool recaps each day of last week, sharing it with members of the Cadre first. Enjoy the first one below with some amazing images.
Jeremy’s day one recap
Hi folks! Today I’m blogging for the first time ever. Two weeks ago I did my first Snapchat (follow us! We’re foundersbrewing). Maybe next week I’ll buy a Ferrari. Just kidding, I swear this isn’t a mid-life crisis. Just want to bring you guys along for the action!
But this isn’t just some random rambling blog — I have cool and important stuff I want to tell you about. This week I’m traveling around one of my favorite places and doing one of my favorite things with some of my favorite people. Yep, you guessed it — I’m in the Yakima Valley visiting our hop growers during the hop harvest!
OK, you probably didn’t guess that, but it’s totally true. This is my fifth trip out here to Yakima — wait, where? The Yakima Valley is in the state of Washington, and it’s where around 75 percent of American hops are grown. Founders uses a considerable amount of hops these days, and we’ve established some really cool relationships with the people responsible for growing and processing these hops for us. So every year during the harvest, we come out here to catch up with our growers, see what they’ve grown for us and see what kind of new innovations or hop varieties they’ve been working on.
And every year, we like to bring some new people from the brewery out here to soak in the experience. This year, I brought Dave Powell, our lead brewer, and Steven Cummings, our multimedia specialist. Dave handles most of our brewhouse raw materials management, so it’s a great opportunity for him to make some personal connections with the people he’s buying our hops from. Plus, he’ll be super valuable in helping me to select which specific lots of hops we’d like to fulfill our contracts with. Steven brought an arsenal of cameras and recording equipment, so he’ll be doing some awesome documentation this week (keep scrolling to see his sweet shots from day one). Plus, they’re both cool dudes that are fun to hang out with.
Our first stop this year was to see Graham Gamache at Cornerstone Ranches. We’ve just recently started doing business with Graham, so this was my first visit to his place. Like many farmers here, Graham’s family has been growing hops for several generations. He also grows apples and grapes and was one of the first GlobalGAP certified farms in the U.S.
Graham also has a Ranch House that was once home to his family but now gets rented out as a bed and breakfast, and he let us shack up here for the night. After a busy day of running the farm, Graham was kind enough to drive us around to check out some of his hop fields. We stopped to smell a few varieties, like Mosaic, Chinook and El Dorado, and saw the remains of yards that had recently been picked, like Simcoe, Citra and a Crystal yard that was grown especially for us! We’ll be using those Crystal hops in our All Day IPA for the next calendar year.
Back at the facility, we got to witness Mosaic hops running through the picker and drying in the kilns. They’ve been picking hops for 23 straight days now, and the operation runs around the clock until all the hops are picked. With apples also being harvested now it’s a busy time, so I’m amazed that Graham had any time to spend with us at all. Really glad that he did, and he also seemed to appreciate an opportunity to relax for a few, have some beers and talk about our amazingly cool industry.
Alright, well that about sums up day one! Check out a few photos from the day below and above and check out other updates from Yakima on the Founders site right here.
Jeremy Kosmicki began his career as a passionate homebrewer with a knack for writing recipes and creating well-balanced beers. A friend got him a job at a fledgling brewery in Grand Rapids called Founders Brewing Co. and Kosmicki quickly moved up the ranks from working on the packaging line to head brewer in five short years. In that time, he was instrumental in the development and creation of such Founders classics as Breakfast Stout and Dirty Bastard. In his current role as Brewmaster, Kosmicki develops recipes, sources ingredients and travels across the country on behalf of the brewery. In addition to that, you can find Jeremy playing music with his wife, Jamie, and their two young daughters.