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Alaska Airlines’ epic beer run helps remote breweries make IPAs

The airline has delivered 1,200 pounds of fresh hops to breweries in Hawaii and Alaska so that they can make West Coast IPAs.

The main ingredient needed to craft popular beer style West Coast IPA is hops grown in Washington and Oregon, but these are not necessarily easy to get hold of if you live far from these states.

Jake Spotts – a US Air Force veteran, and postal affairs manager for Alaska Airlines’ cargo team, had the brainwave to make the beer style available to destinations that are typically unable to get hold of the hops.

If Alaska Airlines could ship fresh salmon around the world, he thought, why couldn’t the airline deliver fresh Northwest hops across the Pacific? And so the journey to deliver more than half a ton of perishable hops began.

Within 24 hours of the hops being harvested from Loftus Ranches in Yakima, Washington they had arrived with Maui Brewing Co. in Hawaii, and 49th State Brewing and Anchorage Brewing in Alaska.

Harvested, undried hops were bagged and loaded into refrigerated trucks in Washington, and driven to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, where they were transferred to waiting planes and transported on a non-stop route.

Once they arrived at their destination breweries, the hops were immediately used in the boil stage of brewing, before they had a chance to degrade.

The resulting IPAs, when ready, will be served to thirsty customers at Alaska Airlines-owned lounges in Seattle, Portland and Anchorage (Alaska).

The initiative represents the biggest commercial hop run to be made by a US airline to date.

“This is a potential game-changer for the craft beer industry and farm-to-glass collaboration at its finest,” said Adam Drouhard, cargo managing director for Alaska Airlines, noting that Washington state grows almost three-quarters of the U.S. hop crop. “This puts a Northwest agricultural product in places that don’t normally get it. With the size and scope we have in Seattle, we are really positioned to own this.”

David McCarthy, co-founder of 49th State Brewing said: “Using Alaska Air Cargo, we can guarantee the supply chain all the way from field to the kettle,” said “Aficionados of beer are really looking for this flavour, and we’re excited we can now make the freshest beer in Anchorage and the whole Alaska market.”

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