Nor'Wester Professor in Fermentation Science

December 31, 1995

James Bernau speaking into a microphone, in black and whiteWishing 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 establish a professorship dedicated to fermentation science in the College of Agricultural Sciences. Established in 1995 in the Department of Food Science and Technology, it was the first professorship of its kind in the nation.

Bernau, a graduate of the University of Oregon, made his gift 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," he said. 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 also benefits applications in areas as diverse as dairy, vegetables, and pharmaceuticals.

In addition to the gift, Bernau's company loaned OSU a brew house—a pilot microbrewery comprising several tanks and other equipment. Under a formal agreement, the brew house was 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.


Current Faculty Holder

Thomas Shellhammer headshot with glass of beer in his hand
Thomas Shellhammer