We went to Hop And Brew School put on by YCHHOPS, http://www.ychhops.com
This was 2 days and cost $200 per person. Was it worth it? Absolutely, it exceeded expectations, and I will attempt to explain.
Once you are checked into your hotel, transportation out and back to the event is provided. At the event you are provided 3 meals a day. There were also tubs of commercial beer and a kegerator if you are thirsty. Many were thirsty.
The morning sessions were presentations by the likes of YCH personnel, Patrick Smith (Loftus Ranches), Stan Hieronymus, Gary Glass, Denny Conn, and Ann George (USA Hops). These were all very good.
The afternoon sessions were field trips. The first day was to see the pelletizer operation in Sunnyside WA, and then the extraction facility and warehouses just down the street. The supercritical CO2 extraction facility look like rocket science, and it did use high temperature and pressure to extract the lupulin resins. Simcoe is being harvested now, and trucks were delivering bales in the warehouse area, the smell was wonderful. A brewer's cut was made in front of us, and we got to grab some Simcoe out of the bale.
The second day was a tour of Perrault farms facility, which is new. They had to expand the processing plant as more acres have been added to their operation. We saw trucks being unloaded and the bines placed into the picker, and then saw how the cones were separated from the bine and leaf material. We then went to the kilns, saw the bottom plenum, then went up the stairs where it was hot and humid and our glasses fogged up.
Then it was off to the experimental field with Jason Perault, who explained the breeding program and toured us through the rows of single plants, then an area with 7 plants of each experimental variety. We got to pick and rub cones from random experimental plants, including 291, and 438 (Ron Mexico).
The last part was sensory, where we smelled small sample jars of aroma compounds. Then it was samples of hops and asigning values to aroma descriptors.
To sum it all up, I came away with a much deeper knowledge of hop farming and how hops are processed and distributed. The experience was high in the fun department too, and well run. Mrs. R and I came away with the impression that the YCH personnel and the Perrault family truly enjoyed hosting the event.
I rate this just under the NHC as far as a fun and educational beer experience. We will go back some year.
Can't make NHC some year, go to Hop School.
Have questions about hops and hop farming, go to Hop School.
Your wife asks what you want to do for your birthday, and it coincides, go to Hop School!