Beers Made by Walking with Washington Wild

Beers Made by Walking with Washington Wild

Our quality manager, Jackie Beard, shares her experience being involved with Beers Made by Walking and our partnership with Washington Wild. She created our upcoming Imagination Station release, Cedar Shadow Stout, from her experience on this hike. Plus, look for our salmon-safe limited release Brewshed IPA in cans coming to Seattle-area PCC stores in mid October. 

Picture this: It’s a Thursday morning, and I’m standing next to a waterfall drinking beer with fifteen strangers and five friends. The air is misty, and the green fronded ferns are waving gently. A naturalist is pointing out plants, and a toddler is petting a puppy in a hiking harness. We’re passing around cans, crowlers, and growlers of beers to try a little bit of everything, sharing stories. And I’m on the clock.

This was my second year of being involved with Beers Made by Walking, an initiative that’s part of Washington Wild’s Brewshed Alliance. Beers Made by Walking takes brewers out into our protected natural spaces along with a naturalist to taste the edible plants in the landscape, learn about ecology, and make a beer inspired by the experience. The idea is that delicious beer can only be made with clean water, which comes from our wild lands in the mountains. Beer is mostly made of water, and that water impacts everything from hop-malt balance to bitterness to body.  That hazy IPA you’re drinking? One reason it’s less bitter than the West Coast IPA next to it on the menu is that it has a different mineral content – usually more chloride salts.

Last year, inspired by an aromatic Artemisia species on the South Tiger Traverse near Issaquah (think sandalwood, eucalyptus, and potpourri), I made a sagebrush and ginger IPA with our local big sagebrush, Artemisia tridentata.  The result, called Crouching Cougar, Hidden Sagerat IPA, was part-beer and part-cocktail, like the smell of a morning hike after a spring rainstorm through Cowiche Canyon turned into a dry, fizzy, spicy adventure for your taste buds.

Photo by David PaulsonThis year, I wanted to make a beer that reflected the unique ecosystem of the Franklin Falls hike. The resilience of western hemlock trees on the trail, which grow from old rotting stumps and downed logs of cedar and fir, was a particularly inspiring part of the hike. Hemlocks are hard to find in urban and suburban parts in the Seattle area, where loggers in the late 1800s through the 1930s cleared all the trees and burned the underbrush, leaving very little for the hemlock to grow in. This year’s beer uses Western Red Cedar planks in the mash so that the beer itself grows out of the cedar like a hemlock tree. Brewed with grains grown and malted in the Pacific Northwest, Cedar Shadow Stout is designed to bring out the sweet, spicy, resinous characters of Western Red Cedar (Thuja picata) with a bit of rye malt.  The recipe also includes experimental HBC 472 hops to bring a barrel-aged character to a dry, crisp, chocolate palate.

Both hemlock and sagebrush are species that struggle to regrow once human impact has changed their landscape. These unique beers honor the beauty, fragility, and resilience of their landscapes, and I hope that when you drink them, you take a moment of gratitude for the clean water in our mountains and the ancient giants that grow there.

Want to support the preservation of Washington’s wild lands and waters?  Cedar Shadow Stout will be on tap in our Yakima Taproom during the month of September, plus you can try it September 7th at Washington Wild’s Beers Made by Walking Tapping, where all proceeds benefit Washington Wild. Plus, Bale Breaker is partnering with Washington Wild to release Brewshed IPA in cans exclusively at Seattle-area PCC stores in early October. Cheers to the natural beauty of the Northwest!

Big thanks to David Paulson for the photos!

Posted September 06, 2019

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