According to the Brewer's Association, 2,822 craft brewers were in operation at the end of 2013, and these brewers produced over 15.5 million barrels of beer valued at $14.3 billion dollars. As of June 2014, the total number of craft brewers is at 3,040 and climbing. Growth in the craft beer industry has spurred a demand for Oregon-grown aroma hops as well as new aroma hop cultivars to expand the brewer's flavor and aroma palette.
The aroma hop breeding program was initiated in early 2010 by a gift from Indie Hops. The breeding program's goal is to develop new aroma hop cultivars for Oregon hop growers that are targeted for the craft beer industry. Also, the program collaborates with other hop researchers to expand our knowledge of hop breeding, genetics, production, and cone chemical composition. The program utilizes traditional breeding techniques to develop new aroma hop cultivars with superior agronomic performance in target environments. Agronomic traits that we focus on include resistance to downy and powdery mildews, resistance to hop aphids and spider mites, superior yield, and maturity date. From a brewing standpoint, we collaborate with Indie Hops to couple sensory data (flavor, aroma) with cone chemical profile to identify superior hop genotypes for Oregon growers.