By Pete Dunlop
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Some partnerships are meant to happen. That’s certainly the case with Hopworks Urban Brewery and Patagonia Provisions, the result of which is Long Root Ale.
Released in October 2016, Long Root Ale is a Northwest-style pale ale that incorporates organic hops and barley alongside the perennial Kernza grain. The beer is named for the deep-rooted Kernza plant, which produced the grain. It was developed by Patagonia Provisions and the Kansas-based Land Institute as part of efforts to push sustainable, regenerative farming.
Hopworks became involved in the project more than a year ago, beginning with a phone call to founder and brewmaster, Christian Ettinger. Well aware of Patagonia Provisions’ efforts in transforming agricultural systems and practices, Ettinger was flattered and humbled.
“It was a surreal moment for me,” says Ettinger. “It was hard to believe a company I look up to as a business owner had dialed my number and inquired about making a beer with us. Within days, we met with them and my team learned about Kernza for the first time. Soon enough, we were thinking about brewing the beer.”
Long Root Ale is light amber in color and features a touch of nutty maltiness up front. It finishes with a burst of tropical hops and a hint of spice similar to what you find in a rye beer. At a little more than 5% ABV, it’s a nicely drinkable beer.
“Long Root is doing well for us,” Ettinger says. “I can’t provide numbers on pints sold, but we’re brewing it regularly and it serves as the primary pale ale in our pubs. It’s been well-received by our pub patrons and is selling well in packaged form. I also understand it’s doing quite well in Japan.”
Long Root Ale is made with organic two-row barley, organic yeast and a blend of organic Northwest hops. The addition of 15 percent Kernza brings a mild spiciness to the dry, crisp finish. Long Root Ale represents the first commercial use of Kernza grain. Integrating it into the beer was not without challenges.
“We soon discovered that the size and shape of the grain is problematic,” says Ettinger. “It’s long, thin and small, making it difficult to malt because it defies standard screens, bags and sieves. As a result, we’ve not been able to successfully liberate fermentable sugars from the grains.”
Which means, at least for now, the Kernza is behaving like unmalted wheat or barley. It contributes color, body and flavor, but no measurable sugar. Ettinger is searching for a solution and hopes to increase the percentage of Kernza used in the beer at some point.
“We’re working on finding or designing a malting bin that will accommodate the Kernza,” Ettinger says. “If we can do that, it will be a full player in this beer and we’ll be able to increase how much of it is used. In fact, a bin like that might hold other unconventional grains, which would be a nice development.”
The environmental advantages of the Kernza plant are many. As a perennial, it doesn’t need to be replanted each year, reducing fuel use and topsoil loss. Because it grows 6-8 feet deep, compared to annuals like wheat and barley that grow only 6-10 inches deep, the Kernza requires significantly less water, fertilizer and pesticide. The roots of the plant extract nutrients from deep in the soil, improving soil biodiversity and trapping carbon, good news for the planet.
“For a lot of reasons, we are extremely proud to be part of this project,” says Ettinger. “It’s one of the most spiritually satisfying things that we’ve been involved in.”
For its part, Patagonia Provisions saw a unique opportunity in teaming up with Hopworks to showcase efforts the company has made in developing environmentally sound farming practices.
“Beer holds a critical role in society and history. It’s the center of many tables, uniting us with its common language,” said Patagonia Provisions’ Birgit Cameron in a press release.
“We saw an opportunity to use a widely influential product to help tell the story of organic regenerative agriculture, via Kernza, to a wide swath of people. All it takes is a small tweak in the way we make our beer to effect big change — we’re hoping this message reaches the big brewers of the world.”
Long Root Ale is available in packaged form at Whole Foods stores in Oregon, Washington and California, as well as at Hopworks locations in Portland and Vancouver, Wash. But don’t look for the iconic HUB logo. Artwork on the 16-ounce cans features Patagonia Provisions branding.
“The Patagonia brand is super clean, minimalistic,” Ettinger says. “Any artist will tell you restraint can be a good thing. Sometimes less is more. We hope to get some Hopworks logos on Patagonia apparel in the near future. We are still in the early stages of this partnership.”
The complementary values of Patagonia Provisions and Hopworks run deep. Both are B-Corporations, a type of for-profit corporate entity committed to making a positive impact on society, workers, communities and the environment. B-Corporations are currently authorized in more than half of the U.S. states.
“I think there’s a lot of interest in sustainable practices,” Ettinger says. “Our partnership with Patagonia Provisions has actually helped us refine and sharpen our vision. Part of that is sharing what we know, because awareness leads to experimentation, which leads to action.
“Baby steps are fine. That’s how change often happens.”
By Michael Cairns
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Ever heard of the term “benefit corporation?” I hadn’t either. That is until I began researching the story behind Hopworks Urban Brewery’s (HUB) recent certification as a B Corp. A B Corp, or benefit corporation, is one that operates with “higher standards of corporate purpose, accountability, and transparency,” according to the B Corp website. Such businesses strive to solve social and environmental problems with the power of business entrepreneurs.
The nonprofit B Lab began in 2006 and has since grown to certify a total of 1,229 companies in 38 countries and 121 business sectors. These businesses have shifted their definition of success away from strictly financial profitability and more toward accountability and documentation of their effects on the sustainability of the planet and its people. B Corps try to be a force for good by benefitting their employees, their communities and the global environment.
For anyone who has followed HUB’s evolution in its eight short years of existence, it’s no surprise that, following a detailed application and assessment process, they were certified in February of this year as the very first Northwest brewery to be granted status as a B Corp. One of 47 Oregon B Corps and one of only seven B Corp breweries in the world, Portland’s HUB has every right to be proud of what they have already achieved and where they are headed.
Because of the many sustainable operating practices that HUB uses, it’s no wonder that they scored particularly high in the environment category of their impact report. The brewery is actually 100% carbon neutral, and has adopted a zero waste initiative. They recycle their rinse water, enabling them to use just 3.4 gallons of water per gallon of finished beer, compared to an industry standard of 7 gallons. HUB uses only Oregon Tilth Certified Organic and Salmon-Safe ingredients and stays water neutral by buying credits from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. Other B Corp certification categories are governance, community and workers.
HUB’s brewmaster and founder, Christian Ettinger, states on the brewery’s website that, “It is an incredible honor to become a certified B Corporation and to sit amongst the companies that we have admired for so long. Hopworks has always believed in the direct relationship between business and environmental health and it is great to have a framework to study our progress. B Lab’s application process provided an incredibly eye-opening and dynamic analysis of our efforts to date. We are proud of what we have been able to achieve in eight short years and look forward to tackling the more challenging points in the months to come. This process has really improved our focus and excited our team.”
Oregon Beer Growler congratulates Christian and the crew at HUB for a well-deserved honor, and BRAVO to another green Oregon brewery!
By Kris McDowell
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Christian Ettinger, owner of Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB), has had sustainability on his mind long before the brewery's 2008 opening. While brewing at Laurelwood, he started experimenting with making organic beers but ultimately knew he wanted to go beyond what was possible there. Hopworks was the realization of his dream and an extension of his personal desires. Always at the forefront of Christian's mind is how to make the smallest impact on the environment as possible, something that's reflected in every aspect of the brewery.
The decor of both their original location and BikeBar, which opened in 2011 on the North Williams "bike-highway," is a visual representation of his interest in alternative transportation methods. The bicycle parts that adorn the spaces, however, only speak to part of the meaning behind the shortened version of their name, HUB. The other part of the meaning is less obvious but no less important. A "hub" is literally the middle and Christian feels that "every community needs a gathering place," be that a park, a library or one of the two HUB locations. He admits, "You don't need to drink beer, but you need to eat," which is why he has created spaces that are not just taprooms, but places for people to gather. The businesses offer a combination of bar and restaurant seating, as well as play areas for children. The Tot Tuesdays program, particularly popular in the winter when outdoor activities can be more challenging, is all about providing a space for parents to bring their children for crafts and story time.
Christian isn't content to simply maintain what he started; he's always in search of ways to improve. At the beginning of 2015, HUB announced a number of new projects and programs that will further expand the scope of its sustainability, environmental stewardship and contributions to the community. One of the biggest, literally, is a custom-designed Cleaning-In-Place (CIP) system.
Making beer uses a lot of water. For example, 90 percent goes to the cleaning of equipment between batches. It's not uncommon to use up to 10 gallons of water to make one gallon of beer. There's no way to change the amount that stays in the beer, but it's the water that would typically go down the drain that HUB is focusing on reducing with its CIP system. After looking at multiple options, from basic do-it-yourself projects to expensive systems used by larger breweries, the brewery opted to build a system that was a happy medium between the two. The system will not only reduce water use; it will also allow HUB to reuse a percentage of detergents and cleaning agents. How much of a reduction is yet to be seen, but HUB is hoping to cut both by half.
Another project, Community Tap, is broadening the way HUB thinks about sustainability by supporting local nonprofit organizations. In the past, the business has contributed to many organizations in a reactionary way. What makes this different is that the brewery has created a structured program of giving that is intentional and focused. The giving goes beyond simply monetary donations and extends to seeking volunteer opportunities for employees with each organization.
For 2015, HUB has identified 14 charities, 12 that will benefit from HUB on Southeast Powell Boulevard and two that will benefit from BikeBar, that fall under three broad themes: sustainability, community and bicycles. Each of the charities has been assigned to a calendar month, aligning, when possible, with key events and awareness-raising times for the organizations. KBOO community radio, for example, is an organization HUB has been involved with for years as an underwriter for three shows that reflect HUB values. Their annual spring drive occurs in May and during that month 1 percent of pint sales at HUB on Southeast Powell Boulevard will be donated to KBOO. Christian anticipates that each of the 12 charities assigned to the flagship HUB location will receive $900-$1,000 and the two at BikeBar will receive $400.
A third project is attaining B Corporation certification, a third-party verification of the sustainability of a company, "what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk," according to the Certified B Corporations website. Some of the best companies in the world are chasing the certification that is an extensive and holistic look at business practices. The process of certification involves the accumulation of points in areas like corporate accountability, environmental practices, community practices and worker ownership.
Part of HUB's path to certification has included Christian becoming a board member for Salmon-Safe. It was not something he had thought about before, yet it is another way of addressing the issue of water conservation. In addition, HUB is working with Willamette Riverkeeper and Oregon Wild's Oregon Brewshed Alliance. Christian sees the success of HUB not just in terms of finances, but also in terms of outwardly-facing programs with social and environmental impacts. It's an area that he's been able to devote more energy to now that the brewery’s biggest concern is no longer "keeping the lights on."
You can support HUB's efforts by drinking beer at their two locations and 1 percent of the sales will be contributed to the organization of the month. Want to do a bit more? You can also help keep the four-pack PakTech handle recycling process going. The Eugene-made product that keeps four packs together can be returned to either HUB location in exchange for 25 cents toward your next pint. That might not sound like much, but accumulate 19 of them and you've gotten yourself a free pint of beer, all by just collecting the handles that make their way into your house every time you buy a four-pack for home or an outdoor adventure.
Hopworks Urban Brewery
[a] 2944 SE Powell Blvd.
[a] 3947 N. Williams Ave.
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