Oregon State receives $1 million gift for research brewery

April 17, 2015
Carlos Alvarez with brewers
Carlos Alvarez (in green sweater) and OSU faculty and students gather at BridgePort Brewing. Photo by Jordan McDonnell

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University's fermentation science program has received a $1 million gift from Carlos Alvarez, the chairman and chief executive officer of The Gambrinus Company, a San Antonio-based beer company that owns BridgePort Brewing Company in Portland, Oregon; the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas; and the Trumer Brewery in Berkeley, California.

The gift from Alvarez will fund the purchase of a new research brewery to be housed in Oregon State's Wiegand Hall Pilot Plant Facility, where fermentation science students participate in each step of the brewing and packaging process.

"We are incredibly grateful and excited about building on this great relationship with BridgePort and Gambrinus," said Tom Shellhammer, OSU's Nor'Wester Professor of Fermentation Science. "At Oregon State we are very proud to offer students a 'grain-to-glass' education that covers every aspect of the beer-making process. Furthermore, we carry out cutting-edge, globally relevant brewing science research.

"This state-of-the-art facility will allow us to provide an experiential education that is truly world-class, while also enhancing research that benefits industry," Shellhammer added.

Oregon State's collaborative relationship with BridgePort spans more than 15 years. Most recently, Shellhammer, OSU fermentation science students, and BridgePort brewmaster and OSU alumnus Jeff Edgerton collaborated on a session brown ale that won a gold medal at the European Beer Star competition in Germany.

Alvarez is a graduate of the Monterrey Institute of Technology in Monterrey, Mexico, with a degree in biochemical engineering. After working as export manager for Grupo Modelo and taking Corona to the U.S., Alvarez founded The Gambrinus Company in 1986 and became U.S. importer for Corona and other Modelo brands for the next 20 years.

In 1989, he acquired and revitalized the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas, now the fourth largest craft brewery in the U.S. with Shiner Bock as its leading brand. Alvarez subsequently acquired BridgePort Brewing Company in 1995 and founded the Trumer Brewery in Berkeley, California, in 2004.

An ardent supporter of education, Alvarez has contributed to educational institutions across the U.S. with a particular focus on scholarship funding. Among other volunteer leadership roles, he served several years on the board of trustees for Davidson College in North Carolina.

"I am very pleased to support Oregon State's fermentation science program and its outstanding students, who represent so much promise as future craft brewers," Alvarez said. "I am particularly excited to be able to fund this project and give back to the industry that built my business."

Oregon State is one of only two universities in the nation offering undergraduate and graduate level degrees in fermentation science that lead to a career in the brewing industry. Housed within the Department of Food Science and Technology, one of the oldest and top-ranked food science programs in the U.S., the program attracts students from across the country and around the world who hope to enter the craft brewing market. Three out of four students in the department are fermentation science majors.

When construction is finished, the new research brewery funded by Alvarez's gift will be named in his honor.

Author: Molly Brown
Source: Tom Shellhammer