And the winner is… Below I share the list of winning breweries and beers at this year’s Yakima Fresh Hop Ale Festival, which took place last Saturday. In addition to the list of professional brewers that won awards, I want to give a special shout out to the Browns Point Homebrew Club, which absolutely dominated the homebrew side of the competiton this year. (Above: Single Hill Brewing hoisting their award for Best in Show.)

The Same But Different

The festival was different this year compared to the before times, but it was still an outstanding event. To address health and safety concerns, event organizers decided to move Fresh Hop Ale Festival from downtown Yakima to a huge sports complex on the fringe of the city. Attendees were required to show proof of vaccination or a negative test result. Shuttle busses moved festivalgoers between the area’s hotels and the festival grounds.

Winner this year Chad Roberts (Varietal Beer Co.), past winner Chris Miller (Berryessa Brewing), and me.

Event organizers tell me that they look forward to moving the event back downtown as soon as the coast is clear. Hopefully next year.

The Judging and the Winners

Music, food, beer, and lots of vaccinated people enjoying it all. Yes, it’s a festival but it is also a competition. A panel of judges evaluates beers submitted by the festival’s participating breweries and determines winners in three categories, plus a best in show winner.

I am one of the judges and I can assure you that the panel understands the gravity of the situation. The awards handed out at Yakima Fresh Hop Ale Fest are highly coveted and the judging panel takes its work very seriously.

The crew from Varietal Brewing accepts their award.

So without further ado, here are the breweries and beers that brought home top honors from the 2021 Yakima Fresh Hop Ale Festival.

Best of Show Single Hill Brewing – Energy Cone IPA.

Best Pale Ale: Barley Brown’s Beer (Baker City, OR) – Mitch Pale Ale.

Best IPA: Varietal Beer Company (Sunnyside, WA) – Hop Grind, a collaboration brewed with Future Primitive Brewing (Seattle, WA).

Best Imperial IPA: Bale Breaker Brewing Company (Moxee, WA) – Pilled High Imperial IPA.

Kendall Jones is a lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest with a passion for great beer that dates back to the 1980s when the craft beer industry was in its infancy. He regularly contributes to local and regional magazines, produces the Washington Beer Blog, and frequently travels far and wide in search of good beer.This story was originally published by Kendall Jones on the Washington Beer Blog, January 31, 2020.