Welcome back to Sip Northwest’s Beer Hall of Fame: a twice-monthly induction into a list of essential Northwest beers that have made their mark on the field and region.
Bale Breaker Brewing finds itself in the eye of the hop storm. Since launching in 2012 and located in Yakima Valley, one of the largest producing region of hops in the entire world, Bale Breaker is responsible for some of the best tasting brews on the West Coast – and none is more delicious than their Field 41 Pale Ale.
“One of the real unique and cool things about the beer is that we named it after the field that we built the brewery in,” says Kevin Quinn, Bale Breaker co-founder. “We use Simcoe and Cascade hops grown in Field 41 for Field 41.”
Back in 2012, Quinn says Bale Breaker wanted to create a different pale ale for the region. The West Coast already had a handful of well-known versions — Sierra Nevada’s, Mirror Pond’s and Georgetown’s, to name a few — so Quinn says his brewery opted for another direction. “They were all kind of like the more old school,” he explains. “If they were dry-hopped, they were super lightly dry-hopped. The Field 41, on the other hand, is very light, very dry.”
While the beer only clocks in at about 4.5 percent ABV, it’s not thin or flavorless. Quite the contrary: Field 41 zooms with taste. It’s light, especially compared to Bale Breaker’s flagship, Top Cutter IPA, but if you close your eyes, you might think the Field 41 was an IPA on its own. “We wanted to show that hoppy beers don’t necessarily need to be bitter,” Quinn says. “We wanted our pale ale to be dryer, sessionable. Not overly bitter but still with a lot of hop flavor and aroma.”
Bale Breaker, blessed with proximity to the best hops in the world, also is tasked with keeping its standards sky-high. There is a lot of good fortune when it comes to being located so close to hop heaven but there are also consequences. Some of the world’s best and most accomplished beer producers visit Yakima in the late summer to do inventory on their hops, and in so doing, lots of Bale Breaker beers are sampled and dissected among the professionals.
“Come August or September, it’s a constant revolving door of different brewers and stuff coming in,” Quinn says. “We have to keep on our toes!”