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Patagonia's First-Ever Beer, the Long Root Ale

Brewed in collaboration with Portland-based Hopworks using a sustainable new grain

by Nara Shin
on 03 October 2016

Patagonia Provisions, the sustainable food offshoot of Patagonia that boldly addresses environmental issues and wanting to influence the food industry for the better, has been filling customers up with responsibly harvested wild salmon (all the while supporting conservation projects) to hot cereal made from organic buckwheat (a superfood crop that requires less water, fertilizer and pesticides to grow). The latest addition to their limited offerings is their first-ever beer, consciously made in collaboration with Portland, OR-based Hopworks Urban Brewery. It's probably unlike any beer you've had before, because the recipe uses a recently developed grain named Kernza.

"Our goal at Hopworks is to make world-class beer as sustainably as possible. We do this through local, organic, and Salmon-Safe sourcing of ingredients," founder and brewmaster Christian Ettinger tells CH. Not only a certified B corp, Hopworks also became the country's first Salmon-Safe certified brewery site in 2015, which requires, for example, management of storm and wastewater to leave no effect on the watershed—allowing native salmon to spawn and thrive in the rivers. This makes the collaboration between the two environmentally conscious businesses a no-brainer.

Patagonia Provisions worked with non-profit The Land Institute to use their specially bred Kernza, a perennial grain that's found success in organic regenerative agriculture (aka making soil healthier over time). Because of its long roots, it requires less water than conventional wheat, helps prevent erosion, sequesters carbon and more. Kernza's relative newness (introduced about more than a decade ago) means food-makers are still experimenting and testing the lower-gluten ingredient within recipes—SF restaurant The Perennial was the first to serve bread made from it, but it wasn't easy.

"We created about five test batches, honing in the recipe on our 20-barrel brewing system over the course of six months. These experiments were tapped at our pubs under a different name and our patrons were big fans of the beer," explains Ettinger on Hopworks' own experimentations. "Kernza is a smaller grain than we normally work with so we had to streamline a new process for milling it. In each new batch we experimented with different percentages of Kernza, different types of hops, and varying quantities of hops. We settled on making a Pale Ale and are very pleased with the slight haze and the nutty, slightly spicy flavor the Kernza imparts."

Starting today, 16 oz cans of Long Root Ale can be picked up at select Whole Foods locations on the West Coast, the Hopworks' two Portland locations, and more.

Lead image courtesy of Chad Brigman, final image courtesy of Amy Kumler

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