I love beer. I love stories about beer that is brewed for the greater good as well, like the Vermont-based college professor who crafted a brew just to help migratory songbirds.
Coming from a big agricultural community, I can appreciate the mission behind Patagonia’s beer partnership with Hopworks Urban Brewery in Portland, Oregon. According to Bloomberg, Patagonia Provisions is making a beer called Long Root Ale that will soon be on sale in 101 Whole Foods Market stores in California, Oregon, and Washington. The beer uses and promotes the agricultural use of Kernza, a grain that absorbs and neutralizes carbon in the atmosphere, a.k.a the leading cause of global warming. Via:
“This is why we’re working with Kernza,” Cameron says. “It’s a new food crop that acts like a sponge for carbon.” Kernza is a wild grain; it’s also a relatively recent registered trademark held by the Land Institute in Salina, Kan. An intermediate wheatgrass, it has dense, deep roots—ideal for keeping soil in place and sending down nutrients and carbon. A perennial, it’s ideally suited to regenerative agriculture. But it still has a ways to go before it’s a viable competitor to annual wheat. Chouinard and Cameron figure that if Patagonia Provisions can create some demand for it, the crew of Ph.D.s at the Land Institute might eventually get it there.
If you’re a beer geek, go read the full article over at Bloomgberg. As the owner of at least five different Patagonia vests (and hats… and longsleeve shirts… and vests…. look it’s my favorite brand)…. I’m pretty stoked to try it.
“We had a lot of questions going in about how it’d perform, like if it would clog our sieves,” says Christian Ettinger, the founder and brewmaster of Hop Works. “Barley is more like a kernel, and wheat is elliptical, like a pellet,” he says. “Kernza is more like wild rice.” Happily for Long Root Ale, the Kernza became suspended in the barley mash and added a nutty spiciness to the hopped-up ale they wanted to create.
Most of the Kernza in the Long Root Ale is grown in a second location, at the University of Minnesota’s campus in St. Paul, where Patagonia Provisions paid for 54 acres of production in 2014. Now they’re up to 125 acres. It will be up to DeHaan and his peers in Minnesota to determine if Kernza is a novelty additive to products like Long Root Ale or something more. General Mills has begun testing it, too.