If Oregon Craft Beer were ever to have a mascot, Hoppy the Hop just might be a contender (actually, “Hops” are the mascot of a minor league baseball team in the Oregon town of Hillsboro). Hops have sort of become synonymous with Oregon Craft Beer, and for good reason.
One, the simple abundance of hops grown in the state. Oregon is the second largest hop producer in the U.S., behind only our neighbor state to the north, and Oregon’s hop farmers produce about 17% of the entire U.S. hop supply.
Two, the quality of hops grown in Oregon. Oregon’s lush Willamette Valley offers the ideal climate for growing aroma hops, and the Valley’s hop farms are family owned, passed down from generation to generation by those dedicated to growing the perfect hop. Oregon may very well be the capital of hop research, as well. Cascade Hops, the most widely used variety of hops by craft brewers across the country, were developed right here in Oregon and named after the region’s Cascade mountain range. Cascade Hops are one of 10 varieties of hops that grow in the state, and hop research in Oregon remains active and well funded.
And three, as a result of the first two reasons, Oregon Craft Brewers have kind of hung their hats on hops. We even celebrate the hops harvest each year with Fresh Hops Fests. However, it turns out IPA in all its hoppy glory is not the official state beverage — it just seems that way. (It’s milk – we looked it up.)