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Oregon breeds complex hops

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Oregon hop growers are developing complex, specialty hops to cater to the state's craft brewers.

Jim Solberg, a boyishly enthusiastic ex-Nike executive with a surfer’s drawl and a few strings of gray in his shaggy hair, can provide them. Solberg runs Indie Hops, a well-funded upstart Portland hop brokerage that’s already donated $1 million to refuel Oregon’s hop research program, and built a $2 million processing mill. His company brings big ideas to a staid business controlled by a small cabal for a century.
“Indie Hops has brought a marketing sense, and they really want to highlight Oregon hops,” Goschie says. “That’s never been done before. I’m now thinking more like a grape grower than a hop farmer.”
Solberg wants to do more than just save farms. His company is asking scientists to develop bold new hop varieties to grow on the land Bud abandoned. Oregon researchers are exploring a Willy Wonkaesque assortment of exciting new hops that taste strongly of coconut, blueberry and garlic. With help from scientists and brewers, Goschie and Solberg could create the beer of the future that shames the suds you’re drinking now.

Read more at Willamette Week.

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