The Willamette Valley’s long been a great place for growing hops, and in fact after WWI decimated European hops yards, this was where the action was, as the Valley became the world leader in hops production. Even today, one out of every three beers is brewed with hops from Oregon, Washington, or Idaho. And you thought Idaho was just for taters. For the craft brewers in the state, of which there are at least 200 now, our location is to die for: the freshest and the best of hops are right here.
Now OSU, one of only a few to offer a degree in fermentation science, is upping its game with the establishment of a unique beer archive – the Oregon Hops and Brewing Archives is located on the top floor of the OSU library. It has old photos of operations in hop yards, hops breeding records (assuming you’re into that), and a range of other materials.
Despite the limited space – and the irony of mixing beer and studying – this is a most fitting place to preserve Oregon’s brewing history. Oregon State University has experimented with hops in its research fields since the 1890s. Its Aroma Hops Breeding Program developed some of the nation’s most popular hop cultivars such as Cascade and Willamette, and continues to breed new ones for the craft brew industry.
Back when I did homebrew, I used Cascade pretty extensively. The resultant brew was so good that friends wanted me to sell it to them by the case – which unfortunately is against state law, so….
But hey, you may want to consider a trip to the OSU Archive (as well as their brewhouse) next time you’re in the neighborhood.