[SPONSORED POST]

Ready your glasses, VIP tickets for the 16th annual Fresh Hop Ale Festival are officially on sale today. The award-winning festival returns to the Millennium Plaza in downtown Yakima, Washington, on Saturday, September 29 to continue its reign as one of the “10 best beer festivals in the nation.”

A vehicle for community enrichment and positive social change in the country’s hop-growing capital, the festival and its professional and homebrew competitions full of “freshies” give back to Yakima County-based nonprofit arts and science organizations. In March the Fresh Hop Group, the nonprofit organization formed to host the festival, announced the 2017 festival raised over $100,000 and donated 19 grant awards to nonprofits in the county. Organizations like the Union Gospel Mission, Yakima Schools Foundation and the Latino Film Festival all benefited from the giving.

“We’re very excited to keep hosting one of the best beer festivals in the country and ensuring the proceeds assist Yakima area arts and science organizations,” says Karl Vanevenhoven, the group’s vice president. “We are so thrilled to be able to support so many local organizations with the valuable programming they provide to the public.”

One way to make 2018’s donation even bigger and better? Buy the limited number VIP tickets and tables to contribute more. At $85 per person or $1,000 for a table of 10, these tickets offers exclusive early entry into the festival to hit the tables of over 40 breweries pouring their freshest of hopped ales, as well as catered food, VIP-only tap handles, a covered and heated area, a VIP pint glass, separate restrooms, coat check and more.

“VIP tickets are definitely worth the extra cost of admission,” says Megan Holland, Fresh Hop Group administrator and festival chair. “We work hard to ensure that VIP attendees feel that they have a space to go to away from the crowds in General Admission and hang with friends or meet new ones.”

With the festival occurring at the tale end of hop harvesting season, everyone in attendance is in the lap of hop luxury. The Yakima Valley, being the United States’ hop epicenter, is responsible for over 75 percent of the nation’s total hop yields and 40 percent on an international scale.

“When we invite you to ‘come to the source,” we literally mean that,” says Malissa Gatton, Fresh Hop Ale Festival marketing chair and board member. “Many of the fresh hop beers you will experience at our festival will have been brewed with hops a stone’s throw away from the farm on which they were grown. This is Hoplandia.”

Named “Best Beer Festival in the Northwest” by Sip Northwest magazine, the Fresh Hop Group expects to see crowds grow even more this year. “Every year we strive to make the festival better than the previous year,” Holland says. “We will be bringing high-energy music to the festival this year, more variety with food vendors and new breweries will be pouring their fresh hop ales.”

VIP tickets are now available and can be purchased online here. General admission tickets go on sale May 1 and can be purchased online or in-person at The Beer Shoppe, Bron Yr Aur Brewing Co., Bale Breaker Brewing and The Yakima Visitor Center.