Craft beer as it's brewed in the Pacific Northwest isn't just an alcoholic beverage, it's a way of life — and, increasingly, a showcase for innovation and sustainability.
Hopworks Urban Brewery has taken that to the extreme, as the world's first Salmon Safe-certified brewery — a distinction awarded by working with farmers and developers to reduce watershed impacts through third-party accountability.
Following Hopworks' lead, other brewery sites have adopted many of the same practices, such as complying with urban development standards related to stormwater management and erosion prevention.
Now 22 craft breweries from across Oregon and the Pacific Northwest will participate in the first-ever Salmon-Safe IPA Festival, set for Saturday, Aug. 25, at Hopworks Urban Brewery's flagship location on Southeast Powell Boulevard.
"We are excited that more than 20 of our industry friends are joining us in brewing original IPAs using ingredients that help protect our beautiful planet," says Christian Ettinger, HUB's founder and brewmaster. "The relationship between clean and abundant water and great beer is something to protect and celebrate."
The featured beers are brewed with ingredients sourced from farms committed to protecting clean water and biodiversity in Northwest agricultural watersheds, which are essential for native fish populations.
Attendees (age 21 and older) will get to taste the beers ($25 for 10 drink tickets, limited to 400 tickets available). All proceeds benefit the nonprofit Salmon-Safe.
But it's not just about the tasting. There also will be panel discussions with Salmon-Safe partners to discuss why the certification matters and how breweries and farmers are working together to keep the waterways and planet healthy.
The goal, after all, is to make big ripples in the pond, so to speak.
"The Salmon-Safe IPA Festival is a powerful way to encourage more breweries to source certified hops and malt while educating consumers on the simple choices that we can make for clean rivers and healthy watersheds," says Dan Kent, executive director of Salmon-Safe.
"With more than 70 crops grown using practices that protect rivers and local salmon and more than 300 supermarkets featuring Salmon-Safe labeled products, the chance to make a positive impact can happen in many places — including the brewhouse, at the farm level, and at the store."
Kent stood with Ettinger and members of the Portland City Council on Aug. 15 as the council proclaimed Aug. 25 as Salmon-Safe IPA Day.
Also in attendance were Gayle Goschie, owner of Goschie Farms, and Kurt Widmer, Widmer Bros. Brewing co-founder, who spoke about the importance of the milestone.
Ninety percent of hops grown in the United States come from the Willamette and Yakima valleys, which are both key watersheds for Northwest salmon.
Every time someone buys a beer brewed with Salmon-Safe hops and malt, Kent says, the industry is inspiring farmers to embrace fish-friendly growing practices.
The city is no stranger to the Salmon-Safe certification. Portland Parks & Recreation received Salmon-Safe certification in 2004, and the city of Portland became the first Salmon-Safe city in the nation in 2016.
More than half of the participating brewers at the festival are from Oregon. Portland's include: Baerlic Brewing, Breakside Brewing, Culmination Brewing, Ex Novo Brewing Co., Gigantic Brewing, Hopworks Urban Brewery and Widmer Brothers Brewery.
From elsewhere in Oregon: Crux Fermentation Project, Worthy Brewing and Deschutes Brewery (Bend), Fort George Brewery (Astoria) and Yachats Brewing (Yachats).
"Portland is home to more craft breweries per capita than any other city in the U.S.," commissioner Nick Fish said at the Aug. 15 proclamation.
"It's clear why — great Bull Run water, world-renowned beer festivals, a bustling tourism scene, and Salmon-Safe beers. I'm proud that local brewers are going the extra mile to conserve our local waterways and native species."
For tickets and more: www.salmonsafeipafest.com.
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