Montana Fresh Hops Festival Connects Agriculture and Beer

September 23, 2022

Jake TeSelle, a fifth-generation farmer, co-founder of Crooked Yard Hops, and GVLT NextGen Advisory Board member, is gearing up for the third annual Montana Fresh Hop Festival. The festival will take place on Saturday, October 15, at 4 pm at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds, and Jake is anticipating a great turnout.

“This is a celebration of harvest, craft beer, and the farmers that make all of this happen,” Jake said. “At the festival, you can expect to taste the freshest beer physically possible, engage with local farmers, listen to live music, and eat some tasty food.”

There will be no shortage of flavor with over 30 local Montana breweries in attendance, all featuring different beer made in the “fresh hop” style. Crooked Yard Hops is operated on 10 acres of leased land protected by a GVLT conservation easement in the Gallatin Valley. For the Hop Festival, Crooked Yard harvests the hop cones from their crop and supplies them directly to the local breweries to be brewed into beer that same day using unprocessed, full hop cones. Since the beer must be made within 24 hours of picking the hops, these seasonal beers are only available during harvest.

“Fresh hop beer just tastes better, and you’re not going to find beer like this anywhere else.” Jake said.

Crooked Yard Hops has been supplying Montana breweries with hops since 2015. The farm produces 10,000 pounds of hops each year, which can be brewed into about two million pints of beer. The business has seen exponential growth since the pandemic, which Jake attributes to the community embracing the local supply chain and the fresh hop style of brewing beer.

“Being able to source hops locally has become a lot more viable,” Jake said. “This year, we’ve nearly sold out of everything – our cold storage is already almost empty. Our hops are gone within days of harvest.”

Since the inaugural Montana Fresh Hop Festival, Jake has donated a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales to GVLT each year. One of Crooked Yard’s primary goals as a business is to better connect the beer consumer to the agricultural production of the ingredients needed to make beer. Attendees at the festival will have an opportunity to meet with local farmers and brewers to learn about the important link between beer and farmland.

“As a fifth-generation farmer having grown up here in Bozeman, it’s heart wrenching year after year to watch farms being sold, paved over, and destroyed,” Jake said. “The conservation work of GVLT means so much to me because they are working to conserve what we can while we still have time. No land means no farms, and no farms means no beer.”