By Dorothy Beaton, 541-737-3228
Source: Russ Karow, 541-737-5857
Corvallis, Ore. - Oregon State University announced the creation of a new aroma hop breeding program within the OSU Department of Crop and Soil Science. The new breeding program was made possible by an $807,000 gift pledge from Indie Hops, an Oregon-based hop merchant, through the Agricultural Research Foundation, a corporate affiliate of Oregon State University. Shaun Townsend, a U.S. Department of Agriculture hop breeding specialist and courtesy professor at OSU, will lead the new program.
This gift comes in addition to $200,000 from Indie Hops to Thomas Shellhammer, holder of the Nor’Wester Professorship in Fermentation Science in OSU’s Department Food Sciences and Technology, to foster research in new techniques for developing aroma hops and to study aroma hop chemistry. The breeding program will work closely with Shellhammer's lab to study hop essential oil composition and how individual oil components impart the characteristic flavor and aroma to beer.
In total, Indie Hops has committed $1,007,000 through the Agricultural Research Foundation to strengthen existing hop research at OSU, specifically addressing the needs of both the craft beer industry and Oregon aroma hop growers. If initial work suggests that there is a good possibility for development of varieties that are desirable to the craft brewing industry, Indie Hops has reserved the right to enter into a research contract with OSU for additional work, according to Roger Worthington, owner of Indie Hops.
"As the craft beer movement continues to gather speed, the time is right to begin a hop breeding program that is focused on serving the craft brewer's need for new hops that push the flavor and aroma envelope, " Worthington said. "Indie Hops believes that Oregon State has the skill, experience and passion to bring home new hop varieties that will take craft beer to new and loftier heights."
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Oregon is one of the premier aroma hop growing regions in the United States and home to a vibrant craft brewing industry.
"When you consider the hop research programs and expertise already in place at OSU and USDA-Agricultural Research Service, and that we are neighbors with both the aroma hop growers and craft beer industry, the potential we have to solve problems affecting this industry is outstanding," Townsend said.
OSU and USDA already collaborate on hop research programs to address disease and insect problems, hop chemistry and its relation to beer quality, and the genetic basis for quality traits. In facilities near the OSU campus, USDA researchers maintain the nation’s largest collection of hops plants and genetic material.
“Oregon State University has a long and strong history of hops related research,” Shellhammer said. “An unrestricted gift of this size will allow OSU to help strengthen the U.S. hops industry as we investigate what factors lead to better aroma hop, the type of hops which are a cornerstone of the American craft brewing movement.”
"We are excited that there is now a world-class hops research and breeding program focused on the vibrant craft brewing market, and it's at a public university in the heart of the USA's premium aroma hops region,” said Indie Hops CEO Jim Solberg. “OSU will be able to build on their considerable base of knowledge and share new findings with researchers from many disciplines."