Microbrews from 11 craft breweries were available to taste and take home at Saturday’s Winthrop Hop Rendezvous. Photos by Laurelle Walsh

Microbrews from 11 craft breweries were available to taste and take home at Saturday’s Winthrop Hop Rendezvous. See gallery below for more photos. Photos by Laurelle Walsh

By Laurelle Walsh

“Craft beer is exploding in the United States,” according to Old Schoolhouse Brewery’s Casey Ruud, and the Methow Valley is well positioned to provide microbrew enthusiasts with a “destination beer” experience, he said. “People want to come here and drink beer where it’s made.”

Janet Lightner from Boundary Bay Brewery serves up a Grizzly Bear IPA, which has been infused in a mixture of hops and cocoa nibs. Photos by Laurelle Walsh

Janet Lightner from Boundary Bay Brewery serves up a Grizzly Bear IPA, which has been infused in a mixture of hops and cocoa nibs. See gallery below for more photos. Photos by Laurelle Walsh

More than 200 people attended Saturday’s (June 21) inaugural Winthrop Hop Rendezvous, and it was “really a positive event,” according to Old Schoolhouse co-owner and event organizer Laura Ruud.

And it was not only the imbibers who were looking for a Methow Valley experience, “the breweries love it in Winthrop” too, she said. “They’re looking for any excuse to get here.”

Alongside local brewers Methow Valley Brewing Company, Methow Valley Ciderhouse and Old Schoolhouse Brewery, eight craft breweries from Washington and Oregon made the trip for the one-day event, with most taking advantage of local activities before or after the festival: a crew from Kulshan Brewing Company of Bellingham climbed Silver Star Mountain on Friday and rafted the Methow River on Sunday, and Ninkasi Brewing out of Eugene, Oregon has already committed to returning next year, Laura Ruud said.

“There are more brewfests than anyone can possibly get to,” she added,” so it’s wonderful that they chose to come to ours.”

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