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CORVALLIS, Ore. -- A $1 million gift is helping students and researchers at Oregon State University make better beer.

It's new high-tech brewhouse.

It is fully automated. Computer screens allow students and researchers to see whats happening inside the tanks.

The brewhouse was a gift from Carlos Alvarez of the Gambrinus Company, which owns Bridgeport Brewing in Portland.

The gift comes at just the right time. The craft brewing industry is taking off.

"The craft brewing sector has taken off in the last 30 years, we went from just having a handful of breweries in Portland to having 60 or 70 breweries in Portland," said Tom Shellhammer, Nor'Wester professor of fermentation science at OSU.

The study of beer making is nothing new at OSU. Its fermentation science program got its start back in 1996 when Jim Bernau, founder of Willamette Valley Vineyards, gave the school a smaller brewhouse.

Since then the program has grown tremendously.

"In the last 20 years we've seen a fivefold increase in the number of students in our program," said Shellhammer.

Larissa Hitzman is a senior in the fermentation science program. She hopes the brewhouse and the hands-on training she will get with it will lead to a career in craft brewing.

"It was something I didn't realize you could study when I first started school," she said. "So I just got really lucky all the way around."