How A Beer-Loving College Professor Helped Create A Beer To Save Bobolinks, A Threatened Migratory Songbird

I have a brother and we are very different mammals.

I am a baconist, he a pescetarian.

I am a realist, he is an idealist.

I consume, he preserves.

I am a marketer, capitalist, and facial hair pioneer with a self-proclaimed doctorate in Nuclear Mustacheology; while he is a Ph.D. and educator who’s 1999 NYU masters thesis, Oregon by Foot: A Study of Experiential Education, Land Use and Conservation Ethic, began with, “My walk was about understanding earth rights, the fundamental rights and existence of everything that calls earth home.”

Different indeed, but the two of us do share a few commonalities beyond spawning from the same sperm provider and emerging from the identical uterus. In particular, one shared passion is our love of beer – light beer, wheat beer, stout beer, strong beer, PBR, Schlafly Grapefruit IPA, Miller High Life, He’Brew Messiah Nut Brown Ale, Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier, Peak Organic Fresh Cut dry hopped pilsner and the list goes on and on.

And while I have demonstrated my passion for beer by consuming irresponsible amounts and owning a bar so that others might as well, my brother, Noah Perlut, has taken a more noble approach towards pairing his passion for suds with the earth he seeks to protect.

This week, in partnership with Zero Gravity Craft Brewing in Burlington, Vermont, Noah launched Bobolink Saison beer in an effort to raise awareness and support research on the migratory songbird, the Bobolink.

But why, oh noble idealist? Why make a beer for a tiny (and delicious) bird that nests in the farmlands of Vermont before migrating south each winter to Argentina?

“Bobolinks’ entire life history is in conflict with human food cultivation,” Noah told me. “Both in North America with dairy and beef farming as well as in South America with rice farming. Thus successful conservation requires balancing agricultural and bird needs.”

Consider that Bobolink populations have been declining throughout their range and are federally listed as ‘threatened’ in Ontario. And even thought Ontario is in Canada and thus worthless, in the United States – that’s America, people – the Boblink has been noted as a “species of special concern” in many US states with populations declining three percent annually between 1966-2015.

When one specifies declines or ultimately dies off, it impacts entire global ecosystems. And my brother – presently a tenured professor of environmental education at the University of New England who’s been studying Bobolinks for 15 years – he gives a shit.

“You know what?” he asked. “This research is important. And through this partnership with Zero Gravity and the Bobolink Saison, people can actually go out and buy a beer and eat a burger that will help us continue to better understand these birds that breed and benefit the ecosystem where I live.”

Bobolink Saison was introduced at Zero Gravity’s launch party on Tuesday, July 12 at its Pine Street brewery on Pine Street in Burlington. The event also featured burgers from Shelburne Farms – the basecamp for much of Noah’s research and considered the gold standard nationally for a farm that balances agricultural production with bird needs.

As Bobolink’s scientific name translates to “long-clawed rice eater,” rice was added to the beer during brewing. Most important, a portion of sales will be donated to support Noah’s life-history study of Bobolinks breeding in Vermont and be used to purchase geo-location tracking devices which follow the birds in their annual migration from Vermont to Argentina and back.

“We’ve worked with some 350 regional farmers on this effort,” Noah added. “I’m very proud of the resulting body of work and deeply appreciate to Zero Gravity for brewing such an amazing beer and donating proceeds to the ongoing research.”

So if you’re in or around Burlington and your interested in the betterment of the world, visit Zero Gravity and buy a beer and a burger. You’ll be supporting this little guy:

Aaron Perlut is a writer, host of the Load Out Music Podcast, the front man for country-rock band Atomic Junkshot, and the founder of creative agency Elasticity.