CORVALLIS, Ore. (KOIN) — Researching beer at college sounds like something that’s done at a campus bar. But Oregon State University has a brewery that’s raising a glass to discovering innovations in the beer world.

OSU Pilot Brewery Manager Jeff Clawson is part of a team that finds the fun in the science behind beer making. It’s like making small adjustments in a recipe.

OSU Pilot Brewery Manager Jeff Clawson in Corvallis, September 2022 (KOIN)
OSU Pilot Brewery Manager Jeff Clawson in Corvallis, September 2022 (KOIN)

“A lot of what we do is making the same IPA over and over again, only changing out the hop,” Clawson told KOIN 6 News. “A lot of the work that we do revolves around hops and barley. You know, Oregon grows a big chunk of the world’s hop crop and so we do a lot of work. We have two hop breeders on campus.”

They focus on hops, whether treated in a kiln, dried or from a different variety. They compare little nuances, he said.

Cascade hops came out of the breeding program at OSU. Clawson said that set the stage for a lot of craft brewers. It has a strong, citrusy note that brings orange and grapefruit flavors and aromas.

One beer that uses it is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

Developing different breeds of barley is another hot topic, and they’re “working on some huskless varieties,” he said. Recently they’ve been working on organic naked barleys, looking at how they run through their brewing system and observing how they taste.

Inside the Oregon State University pilot brewery researching hops, barley and beer, September 20, 2022 (KOIN)
Inside the Oregon State University pilot brewery researching hops, barley and beer, September 20, 2022 (KOIN)

“The idea is,” he told KOIN 6 News, “if you have a husk, less barley, you could potentially get more extract. So you could use less to make the same amount of beer.”

In other words, it’s more efficient.

Potentially, he said, brewers could “even make a different beer without the husk in there because the husk does provide some flavors and some aromas in the finished beer. So we’re currently looking at that.”