Washington state now has roughly 250* breweries, and at least a third of them have opened in the last few years. Among this sea of new breweries, Bale Breaker Brewing is one of the rising stars.
Since opening in April of 2013, it has already garnered many awards and accolades. Among them, Ratebeer.com gave Bale Breaker the title of “Best New Brewery in Washington” in its 2013 Ratebeer Best Awards, and last year the Greater Yakima Chamber of Commerce gave the brewery “Business of the Year” and “Emerging Business” awards.
Bale Breaker is located on a hop farm in Moxee, just a few miles from downtown Yakima. The location is very fitting for this hop-forward brewery, as Yakima Valley is affectionately known as the hop capital of the world. The area produces roughly 75 percent of America’s hop crop and 25 percent of the world’s hop crop.
Kulshan Brewing (2238 James St.) is hosting a Bale Breaker Brewer’s Night tonight, March 24, from 5 to 8 p.m.
Currently, Bale Breaker only cans its two, year-round beers: Field 41 Pale Ale and Topcutter IPA.
Topcutter IPA is named after the machine that cuts down the (tops of) hop bines (clinging to strings) during harvest. It’s a crisp, dry and highly aromatic IPA with big notes of pine and citrus (orange and grapefruit). It finishes clean with a snappy and resinous bitterness. Topcutter IPA accounts for almost two-thirds of Bale Breaker’s sales.
Field 41 Pale Ale is named after the field where the brewery is located (a few acres of hops from field #41 had to be sacrificed to make room for the brewery). This aromatic pale ale was awarded a silver medal at the 2014 Washington Beer Awards, and it was the Champion Pale Ale in Sip Northwest Magazine’s 2014 Best of the Northwest awards. In 2013, the year Bale Breaker opened, Draft Magazine included Field 41 Pale Ale in its list of “The Top 25 Beers of the Year,” describing it as having threads of tangerine, passionfruit, grapefruit and pine. To add, the beer only has 4.5 percent ABV, so it’s highly sessionable.
The brewery has released about a dozen different seasonal and/or limited-release beers so far, plus at least a couple fresh-hop beers during harvest time. It specializes in dry, hop-forward beers that feature lots of late-addition hops and dry hopping. In 2014, Bale Breaker brewed just over 7,000 barrels, and they expect to brew more than 10,000 this year.
Bale Breaker owners Kevin Smith (owner/head brewer), Kevin Quinn (owner/sales/distribution/brewer) and Meghann Quinn (owner/marketing/administration) are slowly and thoughtfully expanding the brewery’s distribution so that they can stay focused on beer quality. Bale Breaker brews are only available in Washington and northern Idaho for now.
Kevin Smith and Meghann Quinn are siblings, and their brother Patrick and their parents Mike and Cheryl Smith run the hop farm, which has been in the family since 1932. Meghann Quinn and Kevin Quinn are married.
The Baling Room is the brewery’s taproom, which features a high ceiling, a sleek interior and an outdoor patio. The 30-barrel brewhouse can be seen through large windows.
If you can’t make it to Yakima anytime soon, Kulshan Brewing (2238 James St.) is hosting a Bale Breaker Brewer’s Night tonight, March 24, from 5 to 8 p.m. The event will feature some Bale Breaker brews plus giveaways.
*WashingtonBeer.com currently lists 265 breweries in Washington, but it includes breweries with multiple locations (i.e., Elysian, McMenamins, Ram, Elliott Bay, etc.). Many of those locations do in fact have brewhouses on site, but if you do not count all of the additional locations, the list is closer to 235 breweries.