Taki Pruski, from left, Steve Brown and Cam Stefanic get an up-close look at fresh hops in the kettle at In The Shadow Brewing in Arlington. (Photo provided)

Taki Pruski, from left, Steve Brown and Cam Stefanic get an up-close look at fresh hops in the kettle at In The Shadow Brewing in Arlington. (Photo provided)

Marysville brewery’s fall festival is a toast to friends and fresh hops

Freshies Friends features 11 breweries, plus a special collaboration brewed with hops grown in Marysville and Arlington.

ARLINGTON — Brewing is more fun with friends, especially when it’s a fresh hop.

For Cole Rinehardt, owner of Arlington’s In The Shadow Brewing, it’s become an annual tradition during hop season. He recently got together with some of his biggest fans and friends to brew a fresh-hop beer commemorating the yearly harvest.

“It’s so nice to have helpers,” said Rinehardt, laughing. “There’s more joy in the brewhouse when you have friends helping you.”

The beer, a collaboration between Rinehardt and Dean Robinson, who owns Double Arrow Brewing in Marysville, will be a fitting addition to the lineup at this year’s Freshies & Friends fresh hop festival. The festival runs Thursday through Saturday at 5 Rights Brewing in Marysville and will showcase 16 curated fresh-hop beers from 11 breweries.

“Every year, the lineup gets better,” said R.J. Whitlow, owner of 5 Rights Brewing. “As we make more connections, our network of breweries gets larger and beer fans get the win.”

Fresh-hop beers are a once-a-year tradition only feasible in the Northwest due to its proximity to the Yakima Valley, where nearly 75% of the country’s hops are harvested.

Most of the annual hop crop is dried in kilns shortly after harvest to preserve them for year-round storage. But each September, brewers from across the region descend on the valley to grab giant bags of just-picked hops, then hustle back to their breweries to start their fresh-hop ales. Highly anticipated in the craft beer world, the results begin to grace bottle-shop shelves and taps in late September and early October.

This year’s Freshies & Friends lineup is full of some of the most well-respected breweries on the West Coast. Along with the usual suspects — Seattle’s Reuben’s Brews, and Yakima’s Varietal Beer Company and Wandering Hop — this year welcomes three guests from California: Ghost Town Brewing, Faction Brewing and Original Pattern Brewing.

“These three breweries are making some really great beers right now and we’re excited to have them be a part of our event,” said Whitlow.

Cole Rinehardt shows off fresh hops that were grown in his garden in Arlington. (Photo provided)

Cole Rinehardt shows off fresh hops that were grown in his garden in Arlington. (Photo provided)

Joining that lineup will be the collaboration brew from In The Shadow and Double Arrow, dubbed ITS Double Fresh. The base recipe is Rinehardt’s, with some added modifications by Robinson. The brewers combined hop pellets with fresh hops to give the beer a strong hop bitterness and a solid malt backbone.

Rinehardt and Robinson not only wanted to brew with their friends, they wanted to brew with locally grown hops. That’s a tall order, since the Yakima Valley is the only place in the state with the proper climate to grow hops on an industrial scale.

But hops can grow in the Puget Sound region, too — at least on a small scale.

“We’ve been growing hops for the past 10 years in our yard,” said Rinehardt. “They do really well here.”

Rinehardt spent six hours picking nearly 10 pounds of hops from his own plants. Robinson brought a bounty from his own yard, and friends brought even more. All together, the group gathered up 20 pounds of hops of several varieties — Cascade, Centennial, Cashmere, Chinook and more.

Less than 24 hours later, it was time to brew. A few friends and fans of the breweries joined Rinehardt and Robinson to brew the beer in early September. They all worked together to add the 20 pounds of fresh hops to the kettle and mash tun, making sure everything stayed on schedule.

“I’m not used to having that many people in the brewhouse,” said Rinehardt. “It was a bit distracting. The biggest thing is the sheer volume of hops can damage your equipment, so you have to make sure to filter everything carefully. The extra hands helped!”

Cole Rinehardt holds up a pint of ITS Double Fresh, a special collaboration fresh-hop beer made by In The Shadow Brewing and Double Arrow Brewing. (Photo provided)

Cole Rinehardt holds up a pint of ITS Double Fresh, a special collaboration fresh-hop beer made by In The Shadow Brewing and Double Arrow Brewing. (Photo provided)

Robinson and Rinehardt met about three years ago when Robinson was first thinking about opening a brewery on his property off Fire Trail Road in Marysville. He connected with Rinehardt — who runs In The Shadow with his wife, Sarah, on their rural Arlington property — to pick his brain on small-scale brewing.

“Cole and Sarah are great people and they’ve been really helpful in my journey,” said Robinson.

This is the fourth year in a row that Rinehardt has brewed a fresh-hop with friends.

Freshies & Friends

Marysville’s 5 Rights Brewing is hosting the annual Freshies & Friends fresh hop festival from Thursday through Saturday at the brewery, 1514 Third Street. Tickets are $22 and include five 5-ounce tasters and a 20-ounce souvenir glass. There will be 16 fresh-hop beers on tap, including three from 5 Rights Brewing: Wobbly the Laborer, The Mingler and Juice Groove IPA.

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