Oregon Breweries & Hop Growers Advocate for Clean Water & River Protections
April 17, 2023 – Oregon’s brewing community knows better than anyone that “Great beer starts with clean water!”
Right now, we have a once-in-a-lifetime conservation opportunity to secure the largest expansion of river protections in Oregon history. This effort would protect watersheds, critical fish and wildlife habitat, carbon-storing forests, and world-class recreation opportunities – not to mention the #1 ingredient in every single beer! So Oregon’s brewing community is stepping up to show their support for this historic campaign by releasing a special Wild & Scenic Earth Day Collaboration Series during Earth Week!
Senator Wyden’s River Democracy Act proposes a bold expansion of new river protections across Oregon. This historic legislation calls for protecting over 3,200 miles of Oregon’s waterways as federally designated and protected Wild & Scenic Rivers. The River Democracy Act is the result of a groundbreaking grassroots river nomination process, multi-years of vetting, and the work of hundreds of activists and river enthusiasts advocating for their backyard rivers, drinking watersheds, fishing holes, hiking trails, kayak routes, and love of the wildlands and rivers of Oregon. Over 15,000 river nominations were received from the public. Additionally, over 50 Oregon breweries sent a letter to Senator Wyden voicing their strong support for protecting Oregon’s rivers, creeks, and streams.
To keep the momentum going and help advance this historic proposal, a dozen Oregon Brewshed® Alliance partners are releasing a Wild & Scenic Earth Day Collaboration Series during Earth Week in honor of their watersheds! Coleman Agriculture and Yakima Chief Hops have generously donated Citra®, Mosaic®, and Simcoe® hops to participating breweries who in turn are brewing special beers to honor their respective brewsheds and raise awareness about the need to protect Oregon’s rivers.
Participating breweries are: Hopworks Urban Brewery, pFriem Family Brewers, Fort George Brewery, Ecliptic Brewing, Grand Fir Brewing, Little Beast Brewing, Ruse Brewing, Falling Sky Brewing, Sunriver Brewing Co., and Worthy Brewing.
“From growing, to processing and brewing; I think the central importance of water across the beer industry is a really cool connection point we all share and can enthusiastically get behind. We are thrilled to be working in collaboration with YCH and the Brewshed®Alliance along with 10+ local breweries on the Wild & Scenic Beer Series this year!” said Coleman Agriculture’s Program Manager Garrett Weaver.
“As beer lovers, we recognize that there is a natural connection between clean water and great tasting beer” says Levi Wyatt, YCH’s Manager of Corporate Social Responsibility. “We have to acknowledge the great responsibility that comes with that, responsibility to ensure these waterways stay protected and stay wild for generations to come.”
“Supporting the passage of the River Democracy Act should be a top conservation priority for anyone who values clean water and Oregon’s amazing brewing community,” said Oregon Wild’s Jonathan Jelen.
About the Oregon Brewshed® Alliance / Coleman Agriculture / Yakima Chief Hops
Launched by Oregon Wild in 2015, the Oregon Brewshed® Alliance is a coalition of brewing businesses, brewing community partners, and conservationists who understand the value of clean water and protected forest watersheds. The Oregon Brewshed® Alliance supports Oregon Wild’s conservation work to protect and restore the wild lands, wildlife, and waters that make our state a great place to live, work, and enjoy great beer. Great beer doesn’t start at the tap – great beer begins with clean water. Beer is over 90% water, after all, and that water is a product of the land that it flows through.
Coleman Agriculture has been a proud member of the Oregon Brewshed® Alliance for the last 4 years. As hop growers, the Oregon watershed is crucial to our day-to-day operations. As a 6th generation family farm, maintaining the Oregon watershed is crucial to the sustainability of the farm for the next generation. We are hyper-conscious not only of the water we use for irrigation, but also the effect we have on the watersheds via our management practices. This is why we take measures to limit our water inputs via drip irrigation, minimize runoff and erosion with cover cropping and take part in sustainability programs such as Salmon safe to limit our use of chemicals that might negatively affect watersheds. The Brewshed® Alliance has been a great unifying force between our organization and other like-minded businesses in the beer industry who care about preserving the Oregon watershed.
Hops require a significant amount of irrigation to grow, and the quality of that water directly affects the yield and health of the plants. Elevated alkalinity levels in irrigation water can lead to an increase in the soil pH, which can make certain nutrients like zinc, manganese, and iron less available for uptake. We have experienced firsthand the need to treat irrigation water due to poor quality and understand the very real business and environmental costs associated. By designating more river coastlines as Wild & Scenic via the River Democracy Act, we protect our watershed from potential industry related contaminants that could compromise the water quality we depend on to grow our hops. At the same time, we help preserve the natural beauty and health of our river areas that may otherwise be replaced.
Yakima Chief Hops – Land use change and water availability are the greatest environmental risks facing the hop industry. Working in partnership with conservation organizations such as Oregon Wild, YCH is helping to invest in watershed protection and restoration programs in hop producing regions to ensure access to clean water for growers, brewers and recreationalists alike. These agroforestry efforts also benefit freshwater ecosystems as well as our communities. Since our inception in 1988, YCH has been rooted in environmental stewardship, with the firm understanding that healthy hops require healthy waterways. Environmental stewardship is a crucial component of our business. We value the opportunity to expand our reach by partnering with Oregon Wild on initiatives such as the River Democracy Act, which actively advocates on behalf of our local landscapes and stakeholders.
About the Watersheds & the Beers They Inspired
Hood River Brewshed – The West Fork Hood River and Cold Springs Creek (Tamanawas Falls) are two of the waterways in this brewshed that stand to gain new protections via the River Democracy Act.
Oregon Wild IPA, pFriem Family Brewers – Brewed with Salmon Safe hops from Coleman Ag, and Salmon Safe malted barley from Linc Malt, this IPA has notes of tropical fruit, citrus, and finishes clean and crisp on the pallet. This classic Northwest IPA celebrates sustainably sourced local ingredients and is the perfect beer after a day on the water.
“We always say, “you need great water to make great beer”. We are lucky to live in a watershed abundant with beautiful, clean, crisp water. Water is the primary ingredient in beer, and all brewers should be obsessed with protecting this irreplaceable natural resource.” – Rudy Kellner CEO pFriem
Tumalo Creek Brewshed – The namesake Tumalo Creek as well as the headwater streams like Bridge Creek are some of the waterways in this brewshed that stand to gain new protections via the River Democracy Act.
Canopyia IPA, Worthy Brewing – An ode to Worthy’s love for forest canopies, this 100% Salmon-Safe classic American IPA comes with large notes of citrus, pine, caramel, and a balanced underlying bitterness.
“As a life-long Central Oregonian, it can be easy to take the pristine water I’ve always had access to for granted. I’ve been lucky enough to have been raised on some of the best water in the world and now I’m lucky enough to attribute it to the success of the beers we brew. None of that could be possible without the activism of organizations like Oregon Wild and the outreach and fundraising they so passionately provide.” -Brian Chapman, Head Brewer, Worthy Brewing
Upper Deschutes Brewshed – Fall River and key tributaries of the iconic Metolius River both stand to gain new protections via the River Democracy Act.
Skinny Dippin’ Salmon Safe Session IPA, Sunriver Brewing Co. – This crushable IPA is brewed with Salmon-Safe ingredients, utilizing barley from Skagit Valley Malting and hops from Coleman Agriculture. Skinny Dippin’ is dip hopped and loaded with Simcoe, Citra®, Mosaic®, and Talus®.
“At Sunriver Brewing Company we pride ourselves on the quality and consistency of our beer. A big part of that profile comes from our water sources in the Upper Deschutes watershed. The water being clean, and of exceptional quality, allows us to produce world-class craft beer.” – Brett Thomas, Sunriver Brewing Director of Brewing Operations
Bull Run Brewshed – The Little Sandy River stands to gain new protections via the River Democracy Act to provide a protective buffer for Portland’s drinking water supply.
King Salmon Imperial IPA, Hopworks Urban Brewery – Our King Salmon IIPA is a delicious hop bomb of a Salmon Safe beer. Rich in tropical and citrus hop flavors, it is a wonderful example how great a beer made with Salmon Safe hops and malt can be!
“Not only is water the main ingredient in beer, and a major reason why there are such amazing beers produced in Oregon, but our rivers are the lifeblood of our region. Recreation, industry, drinking water for our urban centers, and so much more, water is vital to our success and happiness as a region. The more we can protect our watersheds, the brighter our future!” – Christian Ettinger, Owner of Hopworks Urban Brewery
Tendril Session IPA, Grand Fir Brewing – Candied pineapple, Meyer lemon, Chantilly cream
“Clean water is the foundation for our existence and here in the PNW, we are so fortunate to have such beautiful pure sources. But we are in trouble and will continue to be unless we make some serious change together. Here at Grand Fir Brewing, we believe that small businesses just like us, that rely on this precious resource to make our products, can make a big impact. Now is the time to support as much as possible to ensure our lush forests and rivers are cared for and protected.” – Whitney Burnside, Head Brewer & Owner of Grand Fir Brewing
Wild & Scenic West Coast Pilsner, Ecliptic Brewing – Brewed like a German Pilsner and dry-hopped like a West Coast IPA, this beer is balanced and crisp, clocking in at 6% ABV. $1 from every pint sold of this brew will be donated to support Oregon Wild’s conservation efforts to expand Wild & Scenic River protections to 3,000+ miles of Oregon’s waterways through the River Democracy Act.
“We are happy to support Oregon Wild in their endeavors! Water is essential for beer, and we’re so thankful to get that from the Bull Run Watershed. We’re here to help support clean water and conservation!” – Colette Becker, Ecliptic Brewing
Bear Creek Brewshed – The drinking watershed for Astoria and surrounding communities.
Earth Day Birthday, Fort George Brewery – DDH Earth Day Birthday was brewed with 50% oats in the grist and a 6lb/bbl dry hop of Citra®, Columbus, Mosaic®, Simcoe® donated from YCH for a resinous citrus and stone fruit birthday surprise.
“Clean water is absolutely paramount to making great beer at Fort George. Astoria, Oregon has some of the best water right out of the tap and protecting that is essential for our craft breweries.” – Brian Bovenizer, Fort George
Little Beast Brewing, Ruse Brewing, and Falling Sky Brewing will also be releasing special Wild & Scenic Earth Day collaboration beers in honor of their respective brewsheds and to support Oregon Wild’s conservation work. More details to come!
Where to Find These Amazing Beers
In addition to being available at each of the participating brewery taprooms, several of the Wild & Scenic Earth Day Collaboration Series beers will be available at the Salmon Safe IPA Festival hosted by Hopworks on Earth Day (Saturday April 22nd) at their SE Portland location on Powell Blvd. Get your tickets today!