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As he finishes off a test run inside the room full of reflective metal vats and computerized equipment, McDonald works like a researcher but acts more like a home brewer in his garage with a few buddies.

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The Innovation Center replaces a laboratory formerly located in a brick building at the corner of Yakima and First avenues, where agronomy and chemistry labs were inefficiently separated and oil testing as part of the hops research caused the whole building to stink.

The Haas brewery works with small craft breweries, which purchase about one third of the Valley's hops, and giants such as Anheuser Busch, MillerCoors Converse Blue High Cut and Heineken, which still crank out 90 percent of the world's beer, said Timothy Kostelecky, senior manager for technical services at Haas.

The brewery is one of only six or seven of its kind in the world, said company officials. A few universities or research organizations use them but almost never hop suppliers.

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The German portion of the group has a similar research brewery in St. Johann, Germany.

The equipment is expensive. The Innovation Center property has a new construction value of $3.4 million, according to the Yakima County Assessor's Office.

Haas Innovation Center includes the brewery, a laboratory and meeting space at the Haas plant at 1600 River Road in Yakima. The center also has a private taproom and beer garden resembling traditional German Converse Low Cut Men

In an August 8, 2014 photo, research brewer Virgil McDonald, left, and assistant brewer Martin Hodel share a laugh while bottling a lager at the John I. Haas hop company innovation center in Yakima, Wash. The innovation center's brewery allows brewers to come in and sample what beers made with a variety of hops might taste like rather than having to schedule a time to brew it themselves. (AP Photo/Yakima Herald Republic, Kaitlyn Bernauer) Research brewer Virgil McDonald, left, and assistant brewer Martin Hodel share a laugh while bottling a lager at the John I. Haas hop company innovation center in Yakima, Wash. on August 8, 2014. The innovation center's brewery allows brewers to come in and sample what beers made with a variety of hops might taste like rather than having to schedule a time to brew it themselves. (ASSOCIATED PRESS/Yakima Herald Republic, Kaitlyn Bernauer)

´╗┐grower Haas also brews beers

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"We say, here's the hop, and by the way, here's the beer," said Scott Garden, technical director for John I. Haas.

Farmers first planted hops in the Valley around 1900 when railroads and irrigation reached the area.

The brewery uses equipment similar to that of commercial brewers like Anheuser Busch, only much smaller, but the company has no intention of making and marketing its own beer. The goal is simply to show clients what its hops can do. In fact, last week, a group of visiting Japanese buyers tasted some beer.

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"It's a lot of fun," he said. Haas first started trading hops between the United States and Europe.

"Ah yeah, look at that foam," says McDonald, the research brewer for the nation's largest hop supplier, which celebrated its 100th anniversary over the weekend.

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The brewery will benefit the nation's entire hops industry, which is centered in the Yakima Valley, said Ann George, administrator of the Washington Hops Commission and Hop Growers of America, a Yakima based trade association. Investing in technology is a necessary part of the game, she said.

In 1978, the corporation joined the Barth Haas Group, a Nuremberg, Germany based consolidation of global hop corporations that dates back to 1794. Members include firms in Germany, England, Australia, China and the United States.

All but licking their lips as they work, McDonald and assistant Martin Hodel use the state of the art equipment to brew a 50 gallon batch of Helles a German style lager for internal taste testing.

The Associated Press

Yakima County produces virtually all of the state's commercial hops and Washington produced about 80 percent of the hops in the United States last year, according to the Hop Growers of America. brewers did $100 billion in sales, according to the Brewers Association.

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There's been quite a change over the past century.

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) Foam shoots from the lip of a freshly filled bottle of lager in the research brewery at John I. Haas.

Virgil McDonald likes what he sees,

British Columbia.

villages.

The facility is just across the parking lot from Haas' massive hop processing plant.

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For kicks, McDonald named one batch Helle Buoy. His jokes somehow carry over the loud hum that echoes in the room. Ask him to name his favorite beer, he'll tell you it's the one in his hand.

In an August 8, 2014 photo, In an August 8, 2014 photo, lab technician Susie Mulqueen tests products for hop concentration in the laboratory at the John I. Haas innovation center in Yakima, Wash. Haas is the nation's largest hop supplier and recently celebrated its 100th birthday. (AP Photo/Yakima Herald Republic, Kaitlyn Bernauer) Research brewer Virgil McDonald, left, and assistant brewer Martin Hodel share a laugh while bottling a lager at the John I. Haas hop company innovation center in Yakima, Wash. on August 8, 2014. The innovation center's brewery allows brewers to come in and sample what beers made with a variety of hops might taste like rather than having to schedule a time to brew it themselves. (ASSOCIATED PRESS/Yakima Herald Republic, Kaitlyn Bernauer)

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John I. Haas opened Yakima Golding Farms in 1931. The farm and trading company eventually became the largest private hop company in the world with roughly 4,000 acres in both the Northwest United States and All Black Converse High Tops Size 8

"That's what we have to do to make sure we can stay ahead of the customer base," George said.

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