The Nor'Wester Professorship in Fermentation Science

Wishing to perpetuate the industry that made him a success, James Bernau, then president of Nor'Wester Brewing Company of Portland and Willamette Valley Vineyard, gave $500,000 of Nor'Wester stock to the OSU Foundation to establish a professorship dedicated to fermentation science in the College of Agriculture Sciences Department of Food Science and Technology. Established in 1995, it was the first professorship of its kind in the country.

Mr. Bernau, a graduate of the University of Oregon, donated the stock with an eye to the future of the rapidly growing microbrewery business, which continues to require talented and knowledgeable personnel. "Supporting OSU will be good for the entire industry," said Mr. Bernau. In fact, at the time of the gift, Nor'Wester's current chemist was a graduate of OSU's food science department, and the department helped the company develop its own yeast. Most of the hop varieties used by Nor'Wester were also developed at OSU.

While the primary focus of the professorship is research and education (teaching and Extension) in brewing science and technology, the field of fermentation science in general will also benefit. Fermentation science applies to products in categories as diverse as dairy, vegetable, and pharmaceuticals.

In addition to the gift, Mr. Bernau's company has loaned to OSU a brew house—a pilot microbrewery comprising several tanks and other equipment. Under a formal agreement, the brew house will be deeded to OSU after 15 years. The brew house is used to teach students, including those taking Extension Service workshops, about beer production and technology.

Thomas Shellhammer

As the holder of the Nor’Wester Professorship in Fermentation Science, Dr. Thomas Shellhammer leads OSU's brewing science education and research programs. He joined the Department of Food Science and Technology in 2001 after working four years as an assistant professor at The Ohio State University. His brewing research examines processing and raw material interactions on beer quality along with novel processing techniques. A significant portion of his research activities is directed towards the investigation of hops and beer quality.

Shellhammer received his B.S. in Fermentation Science in 1987, M.S. in Food Science in 1989, and Ph.D. in Food Engineering in 1996 from the University of California, Davis. During the 2008-09 academic year while on sabbatical leave from OSU he worked at the Technische Universität Berlin and the Versuchs- und Lehranstalt für Brauerei (VLB) as a Fulbright Scholar and Alexander von Humboldt Fellow. Shellhammer is a member of the Board of Examiners for the Institute of Brewing and Distilling, London, England.

 

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