Beer and the great outdoors share a special relationship, but seldom do those two industries intermingle. That is why the newly released Long Root Ale made us take notice; it is the result of a partnership between Patagonia and Portland, Oregon-based Hopworks Urban Brewery.
To be exact, the outdoor industry player is Patagonia Provisions, the sustainable food-focused expansion of the successful worldwide gear maker Patagonia. What started in 2012 with responsibly sourced wild salmon jerky has now grown into Patagonia Provisions and includes energy bars, cereal, soup, buffalo jerky, and even beer.
Company founder Yvon Chouinard wrote in a Why Food? blog post, “We aim to make the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and perhaps most important, inspire solutions to the environmental crisis. And nowhere is the crisis more pressing than in the food industry.”
Long Root Ale is not the first beer to come from Patagonia — that title belongs to the California Route lager from New Belgium Brewing — but it is the first to come from Patagonia Provisions.
Christian Ettinger, the brewmaster and founder at Hopworks, recalls receiving a call from Patagonia Provisions while shopping for groceries: “It was a surreal moment because it was hard to believe that a company that I look up to as a business owner had just dialed my number and asked to make a beer with us. That week we met up and our team learned about Kernza for the first time.”
Kernza is a perennial grain grown using regenerative agriculture practices that play well into the philosophies foundational to Patagonia. Kernza’s long roots — where the ale gets its name — allow it to grow without pesticides, reduce erosion while using less water and removing more carbon from the atmosphere than annual grains.
Long Root Ale is brewed with organic two-row barley, organic yeast, and organic Northwest hops. The Kernza adds a slight spiciness, says Hopworks.
“Kernza is really paving the way for future discussions with other commodity grains that we use to brew,” Ettinger said. “As organic brewers, we are really excited about the ‘grain to glass’ model and Long Root Ale is just that.”
At a beer tasting at Digital Trends, resident certified beer judge Dave Buchanan noted Long Root Ale has a “bready, biscuit malt flavor present and a creamy texture. Noticeable hop aroma, like a pale ale. Mild hop flavor and bitterness.” Buchanan also experienced a noticeable increase in flavor and aroma after pouring out of the can and into a glass.
Long Root Ale is available in 16-ounce cans at Whole Foods in California, Oregon, and Washington, as well as on draft at the Hopworks Urban Brewery locations in Portland and the Miir flagship store in Seattle.