By Pete Dunlop
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Some partnerships are meant to happen. That’s certainly the case with Hopworks Urban Brewery and Patagonia Provisions, the result of which is Long Root Ale.
Released in October 2016, Long Root Ale is a Northwest-style pale ale that incorporates organic hops and barley alongside the perennial Kernza grain. The beer is named for the deep-rooted Kernza plant, which produced the grain. It was developed by Patagonia Provisions and the Kansas-based Land Institute as part of efforts to push sustainable, regenerative farming.
Hopworks became involved in the project more than a year ago, beginning with a phone call to founder and brewmaster, Christian Ettinger. Well aware of Patagonia Provisions’ efforts in transforming agricultural systems and practices, Ettinger was flattered and humbled.
“It was a surreal moment for me,” says Ettinger. “It was hard to believe a company I look up to as a business owner had dialed my number and inquired about making a beer with us. Within days, we met with them and my team learned about Kernza for the first time. Soon enough, we were thinking about brewing the beer.”
Long Root Ale is light amber in color and features a touch of nutty maltiness up front. It finishes with a burst of tropical hops and a hint of spice similar to what you find in a rye beer. At a little more than 5% ABV, it’s a nicely drinkable beer.
“Long Root is doing well for us,” Ettinger says. “I can’t provide numbers on pints sold, but we’re brewing it regularly and it serves as the primary pale ale in our pubs. It’s been well-received by our pub patrons and is selling well in packaged form. I also understand it’s doing quite well in Japan.”
Long Root Ale is made with organic two-row barley, organic yeast and a blend of organic Northwest hops. The addition of 15 percent Kernza brings a mild spiciness to the dry, crisp finish. Long Root Ale represents the first commercial use of Kernza grain. Integrating it into the beer was not without challenges.
“We soon discovered that the size and shape of the grain is problematic,” says Ettinger. “It’s long, thin and small, making it difficult to malt because it defies standard screens, bags and sieves. As a result, we’ve not been able to successfully liberate fermentable sugars from the grains.”
Which means, at least for now, the Kernza is behaving like unmalted wheat or barley. It contributes color, body and flavor, but no measurable sugar. Ettinger is searching for a solution and hopes to increase the percentage of Kernza used in the beer at some point.
“We’re working on finding or designing a malting bin that will accommodate the Kernza,” Ettinger says. “If we can do that, it will be a full player in this beer and we’ll be able to increase how much of it is used. In fact, a bin like that might hold other unconventional grains, which would be a nice development.”
The environmental advantages of the Kernza plant are many. As a perennial, it doesn’t need to be replanted each year, reducing fuel use and topsoil loss. Because it grows 6-8 feet deep, compared to annuals like wheat and barley that grow only 6-10 inches deep, the Kernza requires significantly less water, fertilizer and pesticide. The roots of the plant extract nutrients from deep in the soil, improving soil biodiversity and trapping carbon, good news for the planet.
“For a lot of reasons, we are extremely proud to be part of this project,” says Ettinger. “It’s one of the most spiritually satisfying things that we’ve been involved in.”
For its part, Patagonia Provisions saw a unique opportunity in teaming up with Hopworks to showcase efforts the company has made in developing environmentally sound farming practices.
“Beer holds a critical role in society and history. It’s the center of many tables, uniting us with its common language,” said Patagonia Provisions’ Birgit Cameron in a press release.
“We saw an opportunity to use a widely influential product to help tell the story of organic regenerative agriculture, via Kernza, to a wide swath of people. All it takes is a small tweak in the way we make our beer to effect big change — we’re hoping this message reaches the big brewers of the world.”
Long Root Ale is available in packaged form at Whole Foods stores in Oregon, Washington and California, as well as at Hopworks locations in Portland and Vancouver, Wash. But don’t look for the iconic HUB logo. Artwork on the 16-ounce cans features Patagonia Provisions branding.
“The Patagonia brand is super clean, minimalistic,” Ettinger says. “Any artist will tell you restraint can be a good thing. Sometimes less is more. We hope to get some Hopworks logos on Patagonia apparel in the near future. We are still in the early stages of this partnership.”
The complementary values of Patagonia Provisions and Hopworks run deep. Both are B-Corporations, a type of for-profit corporate entity committed to making a positive impact on society, workers, communities and the environment. B-Corporations are currently authorized in more than half of the U.S. states.
“I think there’s a lot of interest in sustainable practices,” Ettinger says. “Our partnership with Patagonia Provisions has actually helped us refine and sharpen our vision. Part of that is sharing what we know, because awareness leads to experimentation, which leads to action.
“Baby steps are fine. That’s how change often happens.”
By Dustin Gouker
For the Oregon Beer Growler
A beer drinker doesn’t have to look far to see Deschutes Brewery’s connection to Oregon’s natural resources and the environment: It’s on almost every label the Bend-based company makes, from Mirror Pond Pale Ale to Black Butte Porter.
But its commitment to the environment goes far beyond some artfully done bottles. The most recent example came just a few months ago when Deschutes won the 2015 Oregon Sustainability Award in the Business category, presented at the Northwest Environmental Conference & Tradeshow in Portland. The state-awarded honor intends to “promote and advance the inclusion of sustainable practices in government and the private sector.”
Serena Dietrich, the sustainability project manager at Deschutes, says being mindful of the environment is one of the core values for the brewery. “It is embedded into our culture,” Dietrich says. “From the beginning, our founder Gary Fish has been about doing things right, no matter how hard it may be at the time.”
Of course, being environmentally sensitive was likely much easier back in 1988 — when Deschutes was founded and obviously much smaller — than today, when it ranks as one of the largest breweries in the country.
The biggest sustainability effort Deschutes undertakes is the restoration of a billion gallons of water annually to the eponymous Deschutes River, which is just a short walk from the brewery. Working with the Deschutes River Conservancy (DRC) since 2012, the brewery makes a donation to the organization’s water leasing program, which pays farmers to lease their irrigation water and legally protect that water.
Why is that necessary, and what’s that mean for the river?
“In the spring and summer, water flows are greatly decreased in the river due to irrigation withdrawals. By increasing flows in the Deschutes River through the leasing program, fish habitat is revitalized and water quality is improved,” said Dietrich, who also noted that the water restoration also enhances ecosystems for plants and other animals.
The Deschutes Brewery partnership marks the largest private donation made to the DRC to date. The one billion gallon donation also equates to 14 times more water than the brewery and all of its suppliers use to make beer each year. That includes Deschutes’ pubs and everyone in the brewery’s supply chain (hop and grain growers), according to the DRC website.
The work Deschutes does with the DRC is just part of the company’s sustainability efforts, though. There is, of course, the fact that Deschutes has a sustainability project manager in Dietrich. There is also a sustainability committee that features employees from throughout the company, Dietrich says.
The company also makes contributions to a number of other environmental organizations. In 2015, the list of groups Deschutes contributed to include the Deschutes Land Trust, The Environmental Center, The Freshwater Trust and the Western Environmental Law Center.
Other environmentally-minded efforts at Deschutes include:
— Deschutes attempts to recycle nearly everything it can, from packaging material to kegs.
— About 70 percent of the glass used to make Deschutes’ bottles comes from recycled bottles, which reduces the amount of energy required to make new ones.
— Deschutes pays a company to take its “high-strength beer waste,” which also happens to be rich in nutrients. That waste is used to fertilize farms.
Deschutes also endeavors to put the ingredients it uses to make beer to good use, once they’ve gone through the brewing process. Spent grain and hops are combined and sold as cow feed throughout Oregon, which eliminates processing and reduces waste while providing healthy food for cattle.
Some of that effort is tangible in the Bend brewpub, which has had a working relationship with the Borlen Cattle Company since 1995. The company picks up spent grain and hops for feed and, in exchange, the pub buys beef from Borlen for use in its burgers.
Dietrich says Deschutes’ measures keep approximately 11,000 tons of spent grain out of landfills annually.
Deschutes certainly puts a lot of effort into its environmental practices to keep Central Oregon’s beauty intact for future generations. But Dietrich says the current sustainability efforts are just part of a work in progress.
“Even with all the effort, we continue to learn, assess and grow with our surroundings,” Dietrich says. “Keeping a focus on preserving our environment and community has always been a factor.”
Hopworks Urban Brewery in Southeast Portland recently signed onto the Brewers for Clean Water Pledge. In addition to many energy-saving and sustainable practices, the brewery has pervious pavers in the upper parking lot and the lower lot is sloped to catch rainwater in a retention pond. Photo by Tim LaBarge
By Patty Mamula
For the Oregon Beer Growler
“The single most important ingredient in craft beer is water,” Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy told brewers at the Craft Brewers Conference held in Portland in April. Not exactly a news flash. But, her comments about why they should support clean water were.
A little background: The 1972 Clean Water Act was diluted by Supreme Court rulings in 2001 and 2006 that seemed to exclude certain bodies of water. Therefore, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers drafted the Clean Water Rule to define the included water bodies. They released the rule in March 2014 for public comment, hoping for final adoption this summer.
“Before the new rule, up to 60 percent of American streams and millions of acres of wetlands were potentially overlooked by the Clean Water Act,” EPA officials said.
The Natural Resources Defense Council or NRDC, a nonprofit environmental organization, invited brewers to support the Clean Water Rule by taking the Clean Water Pledge.
Karen Hobbs, from the NRDC, said about 70 brewers have taken the pledge so far. By doing so, they sign on to comment letters to senators and the president and they are listed on the NRDC website as a partner to defend the Clean Water Act.
“What they do next is up to them,” said Hobbs. Many have improved efficiency at their facilities, engaged in watershed cleanups and improved water use. “Still,” Hobbs said, “we’re looking for ways to work better with the craft brewers because they are so embedded in their communities and so directly affected by local water. Many of them have amazing outreach in their communities.”
Like Bear Republic Brewing Company in Sonoma County, Calif. Peter Kruger, master brewer, said the brewery, established in 1996 in Healdsburg, Calif. broke ground on a new facility in Cloverdale, Calif. in 2006 with the idea there was plenty of water for the expansion. “We soon realized there wasn’t enough for the city, let alone our brewery.”
The city wanted to drill two new wells, but faced a five-year wait to secure loans from the United States Department of Agriculture. Bear Republic then fronted the city $475,000 in impact fees. Now they have two new wells with a million gallons of excess capacity. Peak demand is 1.8 million but the wells can pump 2.8 million.
Kruger said, “These were fees we planned on paying anyway. The amount we paid is what we estimated we needed to grow our brewery — basically we prepaid about eight years of fees,” he said.
With the money from Bear Republic, the city of about 8,000 people was able to fast track the wells. The brewery has introduced processes to conserve water in its drought-stressed region. “We run an incredibly low water ratio to beer, 3.5 gallons-to-1 gallon of beer. If you take out the water for office and irrigation use, it’s 3.1-to-1,” said Kruger.
The brewery has invested in technology to monitor water use and increase efficiency. They have spent several million dollars on an anaerobic digester that will treat wastewater.
In the first step, water runs through the digester and organic matter decomposes to methane, which will be burned for electricity. The exhaust gas preheats the processed water and will meet about half of their plant’s hot water needs. Then the water will run to the aerobic digester that will clean it up through a reverse-osmosis process for reuse in cleaning and wash downs. Kruger expects this to be up and running by January.
“Brewers are in a unique position to influence the world with the Clean Water Pledge,” he said.
Many leaders in the Brewers for Clean Water come from the water-challenged West.
Jenn Vervier, from New Belgium Brewing in Colorado, wrote a persuasive editorial in support of the Clean Water Rule in 2012 called “Clean Water is Good for Business and Beer.”
Closer to home, HUB recently signed the Clean Water Pledge and is working with the NRDC to develop some educational opportunities around the pledge.
Water conservation is a top priority at HUB. A recently installed custom cleaning-in-place skid allows reuse of the cleaning solution up to five times while maintaining water temperature and chemical effectiveness. A new centrifuge yields more beer per tank and uses less water for cleaning.
Outside, there are pervious pavers in the upper parking lot and the lower lot is sloped to catch water in a retention pond, allowing rainwater to become groundwater.
“Our heat exchange unit allows us to capture city water and use it to cool down our boiled wort, we then store it in our hot liquor tank for further use,” said HUB communications specialist Eric Steen. Both the brewery and kitchen focus on organic, sustainable practices.
For now, at least, the water news is good. The Clean Water Rule was officially adopted and formalized by President Barack Obama in May.
That won’t mean the end to challenges and legislative maneuvers, so supporting and/or taking the Clean Water Pledge will be more important than ever. You can find more information on the NRDC website: http://www.nrdc.org/water/brewers-for-clean-water/
By Sam Wheeler
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Sustainability and turning out top-notch craft beer and food are the cornerstones of Standing Stone Brewing Company, but the Ashland-based brewery’s commitment to lessening its footprint goes far beyond the beer.
Last March, Standing Stone was joined by seven Oregon breweries and 16 others from across the country in signing the Brewery Climate Declaration, an effort to shed light on the opportunity for innovation in sustainable brewing and a call to action for the entire industry.
“It’s so encouraging to say, ‘Hey, we’re a part of this brewing industry, and as a whole people are doing really awesome things,” said Rachel Koning, the brewery’s event and social media director.
A large part of the accord is different breweries sharing the innovative avenues they have taken on their own commitment to sustainability.
Take Bend’s Deschutes Brewery as an example, which was one of the first breweries that measured its greenhouse gases by Global Reporting Initiative standards and then made that data available to the public. Deschutes has also made a commitment to purchase only renewable energy for its operations.
Like Eugene’s Ninkasi Brewing Company, Standing Stone boasts a solar array atop its Ashland building. The solar panels were an early investment in sustainability for the brewery and have now paid for themselves, generating about 5 percent of the brewery and restaurant’s electricity.
“In the eight years I’ve been here, it’s been really fun to see all of the programs that keep developing,” Koning said.
Around 2009, the brewery’s former owners Danielle and Alex Amarotico, initiated a program that has ended up providing 75 of their employees with Kona bicycles for riding to work. Employees put down a deposit of about $500 on the bike and once they’ve come to work 45 times on it, the business returns their deposit and the employee keeps the bike.
But by far the largest piece of the sustainability promise at Standing Stone is the result of its 260-acre farm just outside Ashland.
“They’re all grass fed,” said Michael Smelser, pointing at One Mile Farm’s herd.
Smelser is Standings Stone’s farm manager and a restaurant server. He feeds your food. In early April, he was busy taking care of several newborn lambs at the farm.
“We use the farm to raise our cattle for the restaurant, as well as our lamb. Another big piece of that is composting. We compost all of our pre- and post-consumer waste out there. Literally truck loads,” Koning said. “That has been such an awesome close on the loop for food.”
And even some of the brewing, as all of the brewery’s spent grain is turned into feed for the farm animals.
Its ideas like One Mile Farm that Koning sees as the importance of breweries across the country banding together for the purpose of achieving a higher level of sustainable business. The Brewery Climate Declaration was launched by Ceres, a nonprofit advocacy organization, and Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy.
By Michael Cairns
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Ever heard of the term “benefit corporation?” I hadn’t either. That is until I began researching the story behind Hopworks Urban Brewery’s (HUB) recent certification as a B Corp. A B Corp, or benefit corporation, is one that operates with “higher standards of corporate purpose, accountability, and transparency,” according to the B Corp website. Such businesses strive to solve social and environmental problems with the power of business entrepreneurs.
The nonprofit B Lab began in 2006 and has since grown to certify a total of 1,229 companies in 38 countries and 121 business sectors. These businesses have shifted their definition of success away from strictly financial profitability and more toward accountability and documentation of their effects on the sustainability of the planet and its people. B Corps try to be a force for good by benefitting their employees, their communities and the global environment.
For anyone who has followed HUB’s evolution in its eight short years of existence, it’s no surprise that, following a detailed application and assessment process, they were certified in February of this year as the very first Northwest brewery to be granted status as a B Corp. One of 47 Oregon B Corps and one of only seven B Corp breweries in the world, Portland’s HUB has every right to be proud of what they have already achieved and where they are headed.
Because of the many sustainable operating practices that HUB uses, it’s no wonder that they scored particularly high in the environment category of their impact report. The brewery is actually 100% carbon neutral, and has adopted a zero waste initiative. They recycle their rinse water, enabling them to use just 3.4 gallons of water per gallon of finished beer, compared to an industry standard of 7 gallons. HUB uses only Oregon Tilth Certified Organic and Salmon-Safe ingredients and stays water neutral by buying credits from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. Other B Corp certification categories are governance, community and workers.
HUB’s brewmaster and founder, Christian Ettinger, states on the brewery’s website that, “It is an incredible honor to become a certified B Corporation and to sit amongst the companies that we have admired for so long. Hopworks has always believed in the direct relationship between business and environmental health and it is great to have a framework to study our progress. B Lab’s application process provided an incredibly eye-opening and dynamic analysis of our efforts to date. We are proud of what we have been able to achieve in eight short years and look forward to tackling the more challenging points in the months to come. This process has really improved our focus and excited our team.”
Oregon Beer Growler congratulates Christian and the crew at HUB for a well-deserved honor, and BRAVO to another green Oregon brewery!
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.