Leota Mae Day and the story of a formidable woman



This Sunday, May 1st, is Leota Mae Day at Bale Breaker Brewing. Stop by either taproom–Yakima or Seattle–for special deals and raise a toast to Leota May. The woman, not the beer. But if you want to hoist a pint of Leota Mae IPA, that’s fine too (Picture above from Instagram.)

Many of you are familiar with Leota Mae IPA, an IPA the brewery introduced to its year-round lineup back in 2017, but you are likely unaware of the story of the woman behind the beer’s name. In fact, Leota Mae is the root of the whole Bale Breaker story. ⁠She is the soil in which the rhizomes are planted.

Meghann Quinn, one of the owners of Bale Breaker Brewing, talks about her great-grandmother, Leota Mae, with a lot of pride. “Our story really began in 1932 when our great-grandparents first planted hops in the Yakima Valley,” said Meghann. “My great-grandmother and the matriarch of our family, Leota Mae, worked sunrise to sunset cultivating the land we still farm today.”


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About one year before Prohibition ended, Leota Mae planted the first hop crop at Loftus Ranches, a family farm in the Yakima Valley that remains family-operated to this day. She was described as a formidable woman who believed she was capable of anything.

A woman before her time, Leota Mae ran the show while her husband worked a regular job in town to help support the family as the farm took shape. It’s said that if an irrigation ditch needed digging, a crop needed picking, or workers needed feeding, she was the one who got the job done.


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Leota Mae’s hop farm (Loftus Ranches) is the farm on which Meghann grew up, along with her brothers Kevin and Patrick Smith. The three of them, along with Meghann’s husband, Kevin Quinn, started Bale Breaker Brewing back in 2013, carving out a corner of the family’s hop farm to build a brewery and taproom.

Leota Mae would be proud of her progeny. Bale Breaker Brewing has grown into one of the state’s larger craft breweries, employs a bunch of people, and has established itself as a valuable member of the Yakima Valley community.


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“This tradition of hard work has made its way through four generations of the family, and as we’re making our way into our next hop harvest, we’re so proud to honor our family’s hop farming legacy and the woman who started it all.” ⁠

So, cheers to Leota Mae Day! Stop by either of Bale Breaker Brewing’s taprooms this Sunday, May 1st to receive 20 percent off all Leota Mae IPA products – pints, growlers, crowlers, and 6-packs.



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