Monday, April 14, 2014

American Hop Museum

Here are a few Instagram photos from the American Hop Museum in Toppenish, WA. The town is in the middle of the Yakima Valley hop-growing region, which produces much of the world's hop supply, and the museum claims to be the only one in America dedicated to the industry. I can believe that, since Oregon's Willamette Valley is the only other big hop-growing area in the country, and I'm fairly sure we don't have a museum.

It's your basic agricultural museum, with exhibits on growing, harvesting, drying, packaging, and brewing. Lots of vintage farm equipment to look at, old displays from the state fair, vintage brewery signs and beer taps, etcetera. Oh, and there's a gift shop at the end, which sells just about every hops item you could imagine, except beer. This sort of place may bore a lot of people, but I love a good small-town museum. I'm sure it also helps if you're a fan of the end product, which I am.

I'm not sure they could legally sell beer in the gift shop even if they wanted to. It seems the town of Toppenish is also home to the Yakama Nation tribal offices, the headquarters for a reservation nearly the size of Delaware, and the Yakama tribe has had an alcohol ban in place for about the last 150 years. In 2000, citing problems with alcohol abuse, the tribe attempted to enforce the ban across the reservation, which soon led to conflict with the state attorney general. The problem here is that the reservation is a patchwork of tribal and non-tribal lands, and a majority of residents within the legal boundary are not tribal members. In 2001, the local US Attorney threw cold water on the idea, stating the ban would probably not be enforceable against non-tribal members, and apparently that was the end of the proposal, although the ban remains on the books. In any event, I suppose having a hop museum on a (legally) dry reservation is no more strange than having the Jack Daniels distillery in a dry county in Tennessee.

More recently, the tribe has also refused to recognize Initiative 502, Washington's 2012 ballot measure legalizing recreational marijuana, due to substance-abuse concerns. In January 2014, the tribe announced it would try to enforce this ban on all lands covered by the 1855 treaty with the US Government, covering about a fifth of the entire state. I'm not a lawyer, and I'm generally very sympathetic to tribal sovereignty claims, but I can't really see this idea going anywhere..

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