Oregon employs more brewing professionals per capita than any other state. Aside from meaning we’re flat out better than Wisconsin, Colorado or California, it points to a fine tradition of brewing and fermenting in the private sector.
Corvallis and Philomath are home to several breweries and wineries started by home brewers who have simply taken their hobby to the next level. In many of the garages in the area you will find stills and homebrew operations that are quite impressive.
There are a lot of factors in Oregon’s ascent in booze production. Aside from a lumberjack heritage that calls for foam in the beard, Oregon was essentially tailor made for brewing. Our weather system, with its long months of rain, leads to people seeking indoors entertainment. And what greater entertainment is there than drinking?
Oregon’s cool and wet climate also makes it perfect for grape and hop growing. We’re the nation’s second leading producer of hops, the flower that gives beer its distinctive taste, most of which are grown right here in the Willamette Valley. Beers and wines from our own back yard are everywhere.
Another reason for the robust homebrewing scene? HOTV.
Heart of the Valley Homebrewers
This American Homebrewer’s Association registered club has been around since 1982 as a resource and gathering force for Corvallis & Albany homebrewers. They host the annual Septembeerfest, now in it’s sixth year, this Saturday, September 14th at the Benton County Fairgrounds. It’s an all day festival celebrating Oregon’s fine craft beer tradition, with food and live music.
And they also host the annual Oregon Homebrew Festival, which had it’s 31st edition this past May, and is an actual brewing competition. If you want to get into brewing at home and need help and guidance from experienced homebrewers, these are the people to contact. Their website even has a free hop bitterness calculator and other tools for homebrewers. It can be found at www.hotv.org.
Oregon State University also creates some of our nation’s best brewers and fermentation specialists. In the school’s prestigious program, they learn to make wine, pickles, beer, mead, brandy, cheese, and more, a smorgasbord of innovation.
Here’s a couple physical locations where you can actually get the materials to get you started on your own home brewery:
Corvallis Brewing Supply
119 SW 4th St Corvallis, OR 97333 (541) 758-1674
Started in 1997, this local stalwart has everything you need to make everything from beer to sake to cheese. And they have great gift certificate packages you can give, to pass the homebrew love on to your friends.
36180 Kings Valley Hwy, Philomath, OR 97370 (541)929-2736
Located in nearby Philomath, Freshops has a wide variety of locally grown and imported hops. If you’re a slightly more advanced brewer, you might want to go here to supplement your flower power.
By Ygal Kaufman