At Indie Hops our mission is to steadily improve the quality and availability of aroma hops for the craft beer industry. To date, craft brewers have applied their passion and skill using ingredients that have trickled down from industrial brewers. The results are outstanding and continue to win market share for craft brewers as a whole.
We believe, however, that the time has come for investment in hops research and breeding that is 100% focused on craft brewing. As the craft segment increases market share, new varieties, improved processing, and deeper understanding of hop compounds and their contributions to craft beer styles becomes increasingly important. To do this, we will partner with time-tested heritage hop farmers and world-respected scientists in the USA's finest aroma hop terroir- Oregon's Willamette Valley.
Most hop varieties favored today by craft brewers were developed by the USDA-ARS breeding program at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. OSU also has a fermentation sciences department, which conducts research on how to evaluate and improve the flavor, aroma and health properties of beer.
Indie Hops has an ambitious plan to foster increased collaboration between plant geneticists at OSU's department of Crop and Soil Sciences, and fermentation scientists at OSU's Food Sciences and Technology department. We have pledged the funds to establish a breeding/fermentation program that focuses on the development of new aroma hop cultivars, and improved hops processing. Our goal is to arm craft brewers with hops products that raise the bar on flavor, aroma, and pure enjoyment of the beers they crave.
What's our research "wish list?" Here's a sampling of promising research topics:
Oregon State University is the perfect "laboratory" in which to conduct basic and applied hops research. As Professor Tom Shellhammer says, OSU is "the epicenter" of new and exciting hop varities. In the past 50 years, he notes, about 95% of the American varieties U.S. brewers use today were crossed, culled and cultivated at OSU.
Those varieties include workhorses like Cascade and Willamette, as well as thoroughbreds like Sterling, Ultra, Mt. Hood, Liberty, Santiam and Crystal. Many of these outstanding varieties were developed before the craft beer revolution, at a time when the macros funded most of the research.
Now that the macros have shifted their funds toward super alpha varieties, IH is stepping in to help focus attention at OSU on Oregon-grown aroma varieties for the craft segment. There's no limit to what OSU can achieve in this effort. Private breeders have been focused on downstream "juice" extracts. Indie Hops is committed to helping OSU re-tool as the world's leading lab on super aroma varieties, a pursuit that will directly benefit craft brewers and Oregon growers.
OSU's Fermentation Sciences department was established in 1995 within the Food Sciences and Technology department at Wiegand Hall. Programs in beer, wine, and cheese have grown in step with artisan movements within these markets. Dr. Tom Shellhammer's work in brewing sciences, especially the identification of hop compounds and their contributions in beer, is a natural compliment to help guide the research and breeding of new aroma hop varieties at the storied "East Farm" of the USDA/OSU experimental hop farm. And, Dr. Shaun Townsend, the breeding program leader, has a decade of experience with the USDA Hops Research and Breeding program that is dropping their varietal breeding efforts due to the shift in macro brewery funding.
Not only does IH wish to foster collaboration between the geneticists, biologists, chemists and crop & soil scientists at OSU, we also will facilitate involvement from growers and brewers. We believe in the old saying - "a rising tide raises all boats." IH is confident that by investing in basic and applied hops research, everyone wins: growers, brewers, processors and of course beer drinkers.
Flower to the People: OSU Empowers Hop Sensory Panel
Hood River, Or. Oregon State's Hop Docs wanted feedback from Pacific Northwest brewers on building a new aroma hop and it sounds like they got an earful.
Interview with Dr. Shaun Townsend
Breeding a Bold New World of Aroma Hops
The quest to breed more desirable aroma hops, aromas and flavor, oddly enough, has never really begun. While breeders like Dr. Al have hit home runs on crafting hop cultivars with more alpha, or higher yields, or disease resistance, few if any public breeding programs have made new and better aroma oils their holy grail.
Indie Hops Pledges $200,000 to OSU for Hop Chemistry Research
Portland, Or.- Indie Hops has pledged $200,000 to fund aroma hop chemistry research at Oregon State University. The gift will be used by Dr. Thomas Shellhammer, Ph.D, of the Department of Food Science and Technology over a four year period.
"Indie Hops is committed to learning more about how hop flavors and aromas that people like are created, and using that knowledge in the pursuit of new 'super aroma' hop varieties," said Roger Worthington, owner of Indie Hops, a new aroma hop supplier whose pellet milling and storage facility is located in Hubbard, Oregon. > More