Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

“Tap Into History: Four Perspectives on Brewing in Oregon”

Panel Discussion

March 28, 2014

Speaker Biography

Peter A. Kopp
Peter A. Kopp, John Foyston, Irene Firmat, Daniel C. Sharp

“Tap Into History: Four Perspectives on Brewing in Oregon”  Watch Video

John Foyston (pictured at left) has been writing about craft beer for a long time, documenting new talent and big issues. He started writing about Oregon beer almost 20 years ago when he pointed out "that to write about Portland, we had to write about beer, and everyone else in the room -wine drinkers and mojito swillers all - said, 'fine. you do it.'" The rest was history. Foyston says this was his entrée into the coolest community he could've imagined: Oregon brewers, publicans and beer drinkers are some of the best people he's ever met and he writes about them regularly in the Oregonian's The Beer Here. He was a music critic and feature writer for the Oregonian, and reports to have had previous careers that asked him to care for 1,000 rhesus monkeys, play in rock 'n' roll bands, wash dishes at Janesville's fanciest supper club, own a motorcycle shop, built computers, restored motorcycles and much more.

Peter A. Kopp is an historian of the American West, the region he has lived in for most of his life. His specific interests reside in agriculture, labor, tourism, and the environment and he has published and presented several papers on these topics. His current book project, tentatively called Hoptopia: A World of Agriculture and Beer in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, draws on similar themes while promoting the history of the American West in a global perspective. Kopp is an assistant professor at New Mexico State University, where he also serves as the director of the public history program.

Irene Firmat graduated Magna Cum Laude from the State University of New York, Albany, in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a minor in Marketing. She started her career in retail management in New York and worked as a buyer for the Meier & Frank department store for four years before co-founding Full Sail Brewing Company in 1987. Firmat designed the brewery’s initial business plan, financing and market strategies, and has worked through every job in the beer production process, from brewing beer to working on the bottling line and filling kegs. In its first year, with only four employees, Full Sail brewed 287 barrels of beer and was the first Oregon craft brewery to successfully bottle beer. Shortly thereafter Full Sail won its first gold medal for their flagship Amber Ale. Over the last 26 years, the brewery has evolved from a small microbrewery to a world class craft brewery producing over 100,000 barrels per year and now has 85 employees.

Daniel Sharp is a Ph.D. student in the Food Science and Technology department at Oregon State University focusing on hop studies being conducted in Dr. Thomas Shellhammer's lab. A native Oregonian, Daniel earned a BA from the University of Oregon and his MS from Oregon State University. He has presented hop aroma research at the 2011 and 2012 Craft Brewer’s Conference, both the regional and national Master Brewers Association of the Americas meetings, and the 2012 World Brewing Congress. Daniel is the first student from a North American university to be awarded the InBev Baillett-Latour Brewing Scholarship to fund his PhD work and has received research awards from the Barth-Haas hop group and the American Society of Brewing Chemists. His current research is focused on developing a predictive model for hop aroma in finished beer, which he hopes to have completed before he is eligible to collect social security benefits.