This is not your father’s beer. Since the mid-to-late 1970s, beer in the US has taken a more serious turn. Once the equivalent of mass-produced horse urine, beer in the US has gone from profit-driven drivel, to delicious craft beer that is taken very seriously by its brewers, its consumers, and connoisseurs worldwide. And perhaps no state has been more pivotal in the US craft beer movement than Oregon.
Wine has always been the subject of scholars and erudite bons vivants. Wine has mostly been taken seriously by the same, while beer has often been relegated to the place of swill for university students. But with the American craft beer movement, it looks like scholars have begun to study and appreciate beer as they have wine.
Oregon State University has started the Oregon Hops & Brewing Archives, which is intended to be a repository for researchers of craft brewing. It is the first such university repository in the entire United States. The Oregon State University Craft Beer Archive includes information from as wide a range of craft beer history, to rare brewery photographs, to the mapping of the hops genome.
Tiah Edmunson-Morton is the university librarian in charge of the archive. She travels across Oregon, visiting farms, breweries, and locations where documents are kept — it sounds like a dream job to me. The overall goal of the project is to have a single location for everything related to the Oregon craft brew industry and culture. It is a noble goal, and it is also important because it is the first official university recognition of craft beer as a serious subject of study.