WILLAMETTE VALLEY — Budweiser, not exactly the most beloved label in the land of meaty and mighty micro-brewed beer, is playing up its use of Willamette Valley hops in billboards spotted around the state.
“Budweiser is a big national brand, but we’re part of the fabric of America,” says Randall Black, marketing director for the King of Beers. Bud is running similar campaigns in the Midwest, where it buys its grains, and Tennesee, where it gets its beechwood.
In the Willamette Valley, meanwhile, 17% of the U.S. hop crop was harvested this fall: 8.1 million pounds, up a skosh from last year’s harvest. About 40% of Oregon’s crop — grown in Marion and Polk counties — will go to Anheuser-Busch, brewers of Bud and the seasonal Jack’s Pumpkin Spice Ale (which, incidentally, is brewed using Oregon pumpkins; no billboard on that yet).
Oregon Hops Commission administrator Michelle Palacios says only about 10% of the Oregon crop goes to craft brewers, most of it for fresh-hop beer when local brewers also like to play up their local sources.
— Christina Williams
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