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NMSU assistant professor explores the history of hops and beer

From the first beer brewers in Mesopotamia to the craft beer revolution, a New Mexico State University history professor?s new book pulls together the science and history of beer?s most celebrated ingredient ? hops.


Man with glasses smiling and looking forward
?Hoptopia: A World of Agriculture and Beer in Oregon?s Willamette Valley? writer and NMSU assistant professor of history, Peter Kopp. Kopp is a native of Oregon started his journey into the history of hop over nine years ago.
Hoptopia book cover
?Hoptopia: A world of agriculture and beer in Oregon?s Willamette Valley.? gives insight to the vast history and story of both hop and beer.

?The contents of your pint glass have a much richer history than might be imagined,? says Peter Kopp, assistant professor of history in NMSU?s College of Arts and Sciences.

After nine years of research, Kopp recently published his book ?Hoptopia: A world of agriculture and beer in Oregon?s Willamette Valley.? Kopp will have a book signing at the Barnes & Noble at NMSU bookstore on Wednesday, Sept. 28 at 2 p.m.

?Contrary to popular belief, this project did not begin in a brewpub, but in hop field,? said Kopp. ?I was a lover of hoppy craft beer, but I had never considered how the plant grew or where. After visiting my parents in the Pacific Northwest and realizing that a third of the world?s hops were produced there, and that it is known as the ?Hop Center of the World, I was hooked.?

The United States produces about one-third of the world?s hops.

While there are many books about hops and beer, Kopp wanted to write a peer-reviewed book that eliminated misinformation on the subject. ?My book,? he said, ?aims to set the record straight on a lot of these issues, while providing a compelling story.?

?We live in an era when more and more people want to know where their food comes from and how it?s grown, which is a departure from popular feelings throughout much of the second half of the twentieth century,? he said. ?I wanted to capture this curiosity as it relates to beer. Really, ?Hoptopia? is a story of why the beers of the craft beer revolution taste and smell the way they do.?

Kopp?s approach provides a broad view and granular insight for the industries surrounding beer making. ?There is a lot of other history?local, national, and global?that the reader encounters,? said Kopp. ?What better way to tell stories of environment, farming, business, labor and science than through the hook of hops and craft beer!?

The growth of the craft brewing industry in the United States has generated a growing demand for hops over the last decade and New Mexico is following the trend. NMSU has a program that assists New Mexico growers in the Farmington area. NMSU also offers a ?Brewing Science and Society? course offered to students through the department of chemical and material engineering.

?My hope for the event is to convey just how much history resides in every glass of beer,? said Kopp. ?For those who attend to get excited about agricultural and environmental history.?