Although the recent boom of craft beer may make it seem like hops are a new crop to the Fraser Valley, it has been grown in our fertile soil for more than 100 years.
Until the 1940's, the Fraser Valley was a huge hop-growing region but dissipated as demand dropped. Now with 120 local craft breweries and more launching every month, the demand for local hops has returned.
On October 1, it’s this rich tradition BC Hop Company celebrates, as well as the emerging craft beer industry, at the second annual BC Hop Fest at Kinloch Farms on Sumas Prairie.
“What makes it unique is there aren’t festivals focusing on wet-hop beer,” said event organizer Donna Dixon. The festival is timed to coincide with the hop harvest and the beginning of BC craft beer month.
Wet hop, or fresh hop, beer is a challenging type of brewing utilizing the green hops of the harvest. Hops are fragile and don’t survive long after being cut, and are meant to be drunk within weeks of brewing. Wet hops are said to taste different than traditional kiln-dried hops.
“The hops add a vibrancy, a fineness, a definition, and a chlorophyll-driven energy you don’t get in standard hopped beers,” said Dixon.
Kinloch Farms grows some of the hops used for the festival and is the only hop farm in Abbotsford. Using the best European technology to preserve the quality of the hops, they’ve just completed building a world-class processing plant.
Traditional large-scale processing involves drying thousands of pounds of hops over direct fired furnaces and can take up to three days from harvest to bailing. This European technology uses indirect heat and air conditioning so the hops are in final bailing condition in less than one day.
“We’re very excited because we grow hops and process them and a lot of the breweries attending are using our hops,” said Dixon.
More than 30 of the province’s best craft breweries are bringing their fresh-hopped beer to this year’s BC Hop Fest. Attendees will not only get to sample fresh-hop beer but also enjoy field and plant tours, take in a panel talk from local brewers discussing how they use wet hops, learn home brew tips and tricks, shop at the artisan marketplace, and take in live entertainment.
“Breweries love coming out here to the Fraser Valley because they can engage with a new customer base. Customers love the breweries coming to them.”
Last year’s event sold out so they’ve added more space for this year’s event, which happens rain or shine. Tickets to the 19+ event are only available in advance.
BC Hop Fest
October 1, 2016
1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
1905 Cole Road, Abbotsford BC
Robyn Roste lives and works in Abbotsford. She loves telling stories and learning more about her city. All photo credit: PhotoArt by Simpson & BC Hop Co.
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