Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Seattle To Get A Taste Of International Beeronomics

AP Images
Heather McClung, owner of Schooner Exact Brewing Company.

Aficionados of beer have known for some time the unique styles and flavors of Northwest craft brews.  It’s no longer a local secret. This week, an international beer conference is coming to Seattle.  It’s the first time the meeting has been held outside Europe. 

Washington State University is the host for the fourth annual Beeronomics Conference in Seattle.  And the program is as varied as the microbrews around town.  There’s a session on beer and health, a symposium on cider and research about the demand for craft beers in cans.

Jill McCluskey is an economics professor at Washington State University. She says in past years, the event was held exclusively in Europe, but tastes are changing here and abroad.  It’s less about brand loyalty and more about style.

“The beer market is rapidly evolving with the explosion of craft beers and the Pacific Northwest has really been at the forefront of that.”

Washington has the second largest number of microbreweries in the country, after California, and the most hops grown of any state.

According to Brewmaster Adam Robbings of Reuben’s Brew’s in Seattle, it’s those Yakima hops that are shaking up traditions in Europe and influencing beers there.

Credit KPLU file photo
Harvesting yakima hops.

“What we’ve done over here is bring in new hop varieties, really pushing IPA (India Pale Ales) and different flavor profiles you get out of different hops and that’s sort of really opened the world’s eyes.  We weren’t constrained by what our ancestors had always brewed, necessarily.”

Robbings says he can see the demand by the inquiries he gets from around the world. For right now, he says he can’t possibly make beer for Korea and Brazil.  It’s hard enough keeping up with the demand here.