Long Root Ale is Northwest-Style Pale Ale that has been in the making for the past 1-1/2 years. Patagonia Provisions reached out to Hopworks since the brewery recently became part of One Percent For The Planet, an organization comprised of business that donate at least 1% of its annual sales to environmental causes. HUB is the only brewery within the state of Oregon that is part of this international organization that was co-founded by Yvon Chouinard, also the founder of Patagonia and Patagonia Provisions.
“Patagonia Provision really liked the way that way approached sustainable brewing. They had been looking for somebody to brew a beer and chose us,” stated Eric Steen, Marketing Manager at HUB.
For those that don’t know much about Patagonia Provisions, Yvon Chouinard launched this company in 2012 to offer both ethically and sustainably sourced delicious food products. Based in Sausalito, California, Patagonia Provisions offers up a product line of Buffalo Jerky, fully- cooked Wild Sockeye Salmon, Soup, and Fruit + Nut Bars.
Almost three years ago Patagonia partnered with New Belgium Brewing for a limited beer release California Route Organic Lager. With Long Root Ale this release is a bit different as this beer is now part of HUB’s year-round lineup of beers. One thing that is noticed when looking at the can’s graphic is that there is no mention of Patagonia itself. This is due to the fact that there has been a line of beers under the Patagonia name by Cerveceria Patagonia Primitiva S.A in Argentina that has now affiliation with the clothing maker.
Once Patagonia Provisions approached HUB to brew a beer the uses Kernza a lot of research went into brewing this beer since this grain has never been used before in commercial brewing. Kernza is a derivative of a wheatgrass that was developed in Salina, Kansas by The Land Institute. In Long Root Ale, Kernza makes up 15% of the malt bill, replacing what wheat would normally contribute but with a more spicy character, reminiscent of what rye malt can provide.
The seed size of Kernza is currently about 20% of wheat seed size. The goal is to get this to 50% of wheat seed size within the next ten years. Though the grain was developed in Kansas, it is grown in Minnesota across only 125 acres and is harvested by cutting it. This acreage will increase as demand does.
The Land Institute developed Kernza to have its long roots and perennial growth to thrive in conditions without the need of the use of pesticides. Compared to conventional wheat Kernza uses less water that assists in reducing erosion and also removes more carbon from the atmosphere than annual grains. These benefits alone have a huge upswing when it comes to the future of farming, less pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
When brewing its first batches of what would become Long Root Ale, HUB ended up releasing these batches in the pub all under different names. Through this trial and error the brew team settled on a 15% mix of Kernza. “Ten percent of Kernza did not express itself enough,” stated Justin Miller, HUB Brewer, yesterday during a tasting at the Portland brewery. This 15% of Kernza is used alongside of organic two-row barley, organic yeast and a blend of Mosaic and Crystal hops followed by Sterling hops in the hopback.
So brewing a beer for sustainability purposes is good and all but does the beer hold up? Long Root Ale is a tasty Pale Ale with a subtle bit of spiciness on the tongue. At only 5.5% ABV, Long Root Ale in its 16 oz. tallboy packaging is sure to be a hit with the outdoor crowd up and down the west coast of the U.S.
“Working with Patagonia Provisions on Long Root Ale is the highest honor,” notes Christian Ettinger, founder and brewmaster of Hopworks Urban Brewery in a release. “Kernza adds great flavors to this delicious Pale Ale. It also offers attractive agricultural benefits like substantial water reduction. Kernza is really paving the way for future discussions with other commodity grains that we use to brew. As organic brewers we are really excited about the ‘grain to glass’ model and Long Root Ale is just that.”
Look for Long Root Ale hitting store shelves in 4-pack 16 oz. cans across the states of Oregon, Washington and California where Hopworks Urban Brewery beers are found including all Whole Foods Markets in these three states. Plus look for it on draft at both Portland area Hopworks locations.
D.J. is a Portland, Oregon based writer that spent his formative years in the Midwest. With over 20 years under his belt of drinking beer at festivals across America and the world, he has developed a strong appreciation and understanding of craft beer and the industry that surrounds it. He can be found in any of the great breweries or beer bars that make Portland the best beer city in the world. His writing can also be found in Northwest Brewing News and can be followed on Twitter at @hopapalooza.