In 2017, I was a recent college graduate and, as it often goes, I had little idea as to what career I wanted to pursue. I knew I thrived in work environments that offered hands on learning opportunities, collaborative mentalities, and passionate personnel. Having worked in agriculture for several years, I was given the opportunity to move to Yakima, Washington for an internship with Yakima Chief Ranches. From the outside looking in, YCR had bred impressively well-known hop brands that any beer drinker would recognize at first glance. But beyond that I knew near to nothing of what the summer ahead would entail. “Bring a pair of good boots” was the best advice Joe Catron, Quality Assurance Manager, offered before we all geared up to join the Quality Assurance team.
During my time with YCR, our team walked hundreds of miles of hop rows throughout the Pacific Northwest in search of male plants and diseased plants. We learned about the challenges that growers are facing, we learned to brew beer with experimental varieties and all-in-all came to appreciate the incredibly hard work that the hop industry and Yakima Chief Ranches does to produce products that are unique and coveted worldwide.
The team at YCR is humble, passionate, intelligent, and resourceful. They provide an environment for invaluable in-field education for their interns and for anyone who happens upon their valley that houses fields of hops as far as the eye can see. One of the most helpful aspects of the internship for me personally was the foundation that YCR creates for career building connections. Everyday we were given the opportunity to meet with hop growers, breeders, suppliers, maltsters, and most valuable for me was the opportunity to meet brewers.
Before this internship, brewing was never truly on my radar as an achievable career. I had home brewed in college, and was a fierce craft beer lover. But for me, the big moment happened that summer when we were able to witness the passion and creativity that brewers have for the product they’re creating, the support they receive from the hop and malt industries, and the excitement from the consumers. Now, as a brewer in Portland, Oregon, a mecca of great beer, I often refer back to the tools that Yakima Chief Ranches gave me during my time as an intern. My career in brewing is young but I came into the craft beer industry with a true love and appreciation for the hop industry. My base sensory knowledge was in hops, my base brewing knowledge was focused on experimental hop varieties, and my biggest cheerleaders are the YCR 2017 intern team, appropriately self-proclaimed the “hop cops”.
I find the craft beer industry to be wonderfully collaborative, and I attribute the brewing knowledge I have learned to the welcoming environment that it provides. I have grown immensely into my position as a brewer and have now travelled and had opportunities to brew internationally, but I am most excited for future brews and the learning opportunities that I might be presented with in the future. With organizations like Pink Boots and SheBrew, I have found my voice and have gained even further support in the industry. I am proud to be part of a community of dedicated and hardworking women that are challenging issues in a male dominated field, inspiring the future of craft beer to be as inclusive as possible, and are creating really good beer. This year, for the 2019 SheBrew Festival, and in celebration of international women’s day and month, I brewed a honey pale ale and in appreciation of YCR, I used Loral (HBC 291) hops both hot and cold side. Thank you for everything YCR!
Posted March 25, 2019