Epilogue: Hoptopia in the Twenty-First Century

From: Hoptopia

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189 in the new millennium, the craft brewing revolution continues apace. While big beer and its mass-produced lagers still control a significant majority of the market share per volume sold, craft beer’s appeal has reached all types of consumers.1 From coast to coast, small town to metropolis, newly established breweries serve local clientele. According to the Brewers Association, over four thousand breweries operate in the United States today, marking an increase of roughly twenty-five hundred in the past fifteen years alone. These numbers are even more astonishing given that from the late 1950s to the late 1980s there were fewer than two hundred breweries in the country.2 The substantial upswing in craft brewing has brought about important social transformations within the industry. Perhaps most notably, women have reclaimed roles as professional beermakers. The Pink Boots Society, an organization created “to empower women beer professionals to advance their careers,” has over two thousand members and is growing.3 Similar trends in craft brewing stretch across the world.4 No city has embraced the craft beer revolution more than Portland, Oregon. As Christian Ettinger, founder of Hopworks Urban Brewery, on Southeast Powell Boulevard, notes, “The statistics speak for themselves.”5 He is right. As of the autumn of 2015, Portland holds tightly to the title Craft Beer Capital of the World with almost one hundred breweries in its metropolitan area. Given these numbers, it should be no surprise that Rose City residents drink local craft beer at a higher rate per capita than do the citizens of any other city on the planet.6 Along with Ettinger’s business, which opened in 2008,otheraward-winningPortlandbreweriesofthenewmillenniuminclude Breakside Brewery, Gigantic Brewing Company, Laurelwood Brewing Company,MigrationBrewingCompany,andSasquatchBrewingCompany— Epilogue hoptopia in the twenty-first century 190 • Epilogue but the list goes on. Portland’s influence as a craft beer capital has also expanded up and down the Willamette Valley, with thirteen breweries in Eugene alone and over fifty total in the region. Oregon as a whole has well over two hundred breweries. In 2006, to celebrate this growth, Governor Ted Kulongoski designated July as Craft Beer Month. Simply put, craft beer has engrained itself into the cultural fabric of the region.7 Although new directions in beer making transcend the hop wars of years past by emphasizing new malts, yeasts, and brewing methods, the wolf of the willow still shines. Brewers continue to feature hop bines and cones on their labels and concoct creative beer names, such as Ninkasi Brewing Company’s Tricerahops Double IPA, that demonstrate their adulation for the ingredient . There are many other signs of the hop’s ongoing importance and celebrity as well. Rogue Ales and Spirits, of Newport, Oregon, recently purchased a working hopyard near Buena Vista on the Willamette River, vertically integrating the specialty agriculture directly into operations. A handful of growers have also obliged the craft beer industry’s request for organic hops, long seen as a difficulty given the plant’s susceptibility to pests and diseases. Gayle Goschie and the organic hops of Goschie Farms even became marketing tools when Hopworks Urban Brewery began brewing batches of Gayle’s Pale Ale in 2010.8 (See figure 23.) To emphasize the crop’s ongoing stardom outside of just breweries, the towns of Hubbard and Independence have revived annual summer hop festivals. In 2009, the Portland suburb of Hillsboro chose to name its baseball team the Hops, anointing Barley the Hop as the mascot of the franchise. Of interest for scholars, Oregon State University, under the direction of Tiah EdmunsonMorton , has created the Oregon Hops and Brewing Archives, the first of its kind in the nation.9 In the twenty-first century, Oregon farmers cultivate an average of five thousand to six thousand acres of hops per year, producing between eight million and eleven million pounds of the crop. The work occurs exclusively in the Willamette Valley and under the direction of less than thirty families working an average of fewer than four hundred acres in hops. Although the size of hop farms has increased in recent decades and growers achieve higher yields per acre than at midcentury when the scourge of downy mildew raged, production sits at about a fifth of the output during the heyday a century prior. In terms of volume, Willamette Valley growers continue to take a backseat to their neighbors in Washington’s Yakima Valley, who operate much hoptopia in the twenty-first century • 191 larger hop farms under...


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