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Belt’s Beer Garden: Grind It Out

Hop Grind from Yakima Valley’s Varietal Beer Co.

Varietal Beer Company is located in south central Washington, in a city called Sunnyside, right in the lower part of the Yakima Valley and about three hours away from both Seattle and Portland, Oregon. They were created in 2016 but it wasn’t until 2018 that their brewery actually opened.

Despite being around for so long, I have yet to try one of their brews…until now. Today I have a special beer, a collaboration they did back during the hop harvest - Hop Grind.

Hop Grind is their yearly wet-hop released beer. For the 2023 version, they decided to make a hazy IPA and collaborate with Seattle’s Future Primitive Brewing and Cervecería Transpeninsular from Ensenada, Mexico in Baja California (about 90 minutes south of Tijuana).

Hop Grind was wet-hopped with hundreds of pounds of Simcoe hops from Carpenter Ranches and Sauve & Son Farms, both of which are nearby. And that wasn’t enough so they dry-hopped it with Nelson and some Simcoe Cryo hops to make it pop even more. The beer clocks in with a 6% ABV and a single can cost me $8.

This hazy wet-hop IPA poured a bright, but cloudy, orange-straw color with just under two fingers of fluffy, eggshell white foam. There wasn’t too much head retention, as after a few moments most of it had dissipated. It did leave behind some nice lacing that coated the side of glass in a series of thick webs.

The aroma was light and dank. There were earthy and floral characteristics that brought forward some super dank notes of grass and resin. But there were also some fruity qualities, like pineapple, berries, and grapefruit. It was subtle but quite inviting.

Each sip begins slowly, with a fizzle of carbonation that creeps across the tongue. From that fizzle, the flavors begin to rise up. First, a touch of berries and pineapple appear with some nice juicy notes. Joining those soon after are hints of peaches and a nice dose of white grapes from the Nelson Sauvin hops. But, after a moment or two, the hops really kick in with a resinous grapefruit peel bitterness.

The bitterness continues for a bit before yielding to some diesel and dank earthy tones. However, that wouldn’t be the last of the fruits as the pithy grapefruit and juicy berry flavors swell up once more before everything begins to fade away.

And when it fades away, it fades away. Hop Grind finishes quite cleanly, with just a dash of dryness and a soft lingering hop quality. It’s a very light and crushable (and tasty) wet hop beer that won’t be around long.

If you can get it, it’s worth it.

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