INDEPENDENCE — Who knew Intel could help make better beer?
In 2017, the tech company teamed with Rogue Ale’s hop farm in Independence to track trucking — and conditions during transport — of its freshly harvested hops from farm to brewery.
Fresh hops — those not dried before use in brewing beer — are a volatile commodity, having a window of about 12 hours before they should be used to make fresh hop beer. They are sensitive to the environment — temperature and humidity — after being cut as well, said Laura Rumbel, with Intel.
“Rogue can monitor the hops in real time in the truck as it got closer to the brewery,” Rumbel said. “They could monitor the temperature to make sure it never went out of range. They could have the (data) to know when it was the optimum time to drop the hops right in, so they could have the best-tasting beer possible.”
This one-year collaboration between Rogue and Intel is due to a bit of match-making performed by the city of Independence.
“That is really the role we are trying to play. We are trying to work with ag producers to identify challenges and work with tech companies to identify opportunities,” said Independence Economic Development Director Shawn Irvine.
Saturday, Independence put that relationship, and other tech partnerships, on display.
Irvine invited Intel, Pacific Power, Minet, Oregon State University’s Thinker Tinker Trailer, and the Independence library to set up shop on Main Street Saturday to show off how technology can be used in a small town.
“We want Independence to be known as a smart rural community,” Irvine said. “The main purpose for today is to build awareness locally and regionally about what you can do with technology and what we are doing right now with technology.”
Called the Smart Tech Adventure Walk, the event had four stops, hosted by businesses on Main Street. At each stop, adventure takers could see tech demonstrations and pick up pages from a comic book made specifically for the event. Then, if still in the mood to learn about technology, OSU’s Thinker Tinker Trailer — a mobile makerspace — was parked at Riverview Park.
Brew Coffee & Tap House, the first stop, hosted Pacific Power. The company demonstrated its new smart meters, a project that started in Independence, and offered a virtual reality tour of renewable energy projects across the country.
The VR tour gave people an almost lifelike — if a little unsettling at first — view of where their power comes from.
George Christ of BHP Energy served as “tour guide” telling people about the wind farm, solar array or hydroelectric facility they were looking at with 360-degree video.
“It helps people connect to something they take for granted,” Christ said. “Plus, it’s kind of fun.”
Set up among paintings and pottery at Riverview Gallery, Rumbel explained how hops and smart chips worked together to make beer — and where the technology will be used next.
Rumbel said Intel is taking the concept it developed for Rogue to help with the berry harvest this spring.
“We will be duplicating that, but with a very different set of variables in the spring,” she said. “It’s much more complex getting those berries from the field up to buyers in Portland.”
At Young Realty Group, people could “test drive” gigabit internet with Minet, the telecommunication company providing high-speed internet in Monmouth and Independence. The demonstration used Google Earth to illustrate the difference in speeds.
The final stop was at Indy Commons, where adventure walk finishers could have their comic book bound, and meet the publisher, Ben Kreger, with Warrior Innkeeper Creative.
There, participants could use one of Independence library makerspace kits to wire together a Pac-Man game controller using everyday items. Another kit turned bananas into the keys of a simple piano.
Independence Library Director Robin Puccetti said the kits were purchased through a grant a couple years ago and are made for children, but she’s seen adults just as engaged in projects. The library loans the kits to other libraries in the area and to schools.
“It’s a great way to get kids interested in technology and things like coding, which are such a part of everything now,” Puccetti said.
Irvine said he was pleased with the turnout Saturday would like to hold similar events in the future.
“When you do it, it’s amazing the number and variety of the people who turn out for it,” he said. “It’s not just the code heads. It’s just random people who find it interesting and hopefully some of them will find it inspiring.”