Mountains, rivers, lakes and forests have long been tools to promote beer brands. Now beer is being used to promote them. Eight Oregon breweries including Bend's own Crux Fermentation Project have each created beers called The Oregon I Am in support of the Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts. A land trust is a nonprofit organization that takes authority over—or in some cases ownership of—property at the behest of the private owner. They're often the places you drink beer-on-the-go while hiking, floating, birding or simply admiring.
The reasons craft breweries switched from glass bottles to aluminum cans are many, but one of them certainly was that lightweight cans can easily be packed in to, well, mountains, rivers, lakes and forests. COLT is the statewide association consisting of some 30 nonprofit land trusts and conservation organizations, and it'd love nothing more than for you to drink any or all of the eight Oregon I Am beers at the 80-plus locales the beers are designed to promote. A map of said land trusts can be found at TheOregonIAm.org.
- Courtesy Crux Fementation Project
- The Crux of it all—support public lands!
Bend's Crux Fermentation Project went the extra mile by not just brewing a beer for the great outdoors; brewmaster Larry Sidor and his team brewed their beer in the great outdoors. Brewhouses are sanitized for good reason; to keep the bugs (microfauna and other bacteria) out of the finished product. But Crux's The Oregon I Am is an "experimental IPA," made at the Deschutes Land Trust's Camp Polk Meadow Preserve along Whychus Creek. (A portion of the sales go to the DLT.) The part that makes it an IPA isn't all that experimental; it's hopped with Oregon-grown Sterling, Mosaic and Centennial hops. But instead of the usual tanks you may have spied on a brewery tour or behind a brewpub's windows, Crux brought out a massive pan called a coolship. Coolships allow for spontaneous fermentation, inviting in ambient yeast. Such beers generally end up on the funky, "sour" side, and many months from now it'll show up as the fourth installment of its Gypsy Coolship series. But the batch was split so part of it could be fermented faster using a yeast strain called Kveik, and that beer debuts this week.
Visit the Crux pub on June 25—or other participating breweries if you find yourself in Portland or Enterprise or Eugene—for a toast during happy hour from 4:30-6 pm. A virtual happy hour with introductions to the project and beers will take place online by registering at OregonLandTrusts.org.
The other breweries are Von Ebert and Little Beast from Portland, Wolves & People in Newberg, Terminal Gravity in Enterprise, Eugene's Ninkasi and Oakshire, and Ferment Brewing in Hood River. Oregonian touches abound, from Ferment partnering with Columbia Land Trust to Little Beast's first-ever sour beer focusing on Oregon's native fruit, the mighty marionberry.
"I'm looking forward to trying all of them," said Von Ebert owner Tom Cook. "I continue to be impressed with these types of projects, with the time and effort breweries put into them. Ten times out of 10, these one-off projects yield some fabulous beer." Again, the purpose of all this is to inspire people to get involved with protection and conservation efforts to ensure not just that the land trusts survive, but the lands themselves. If it takes an eight-pack of terroir-driven beers to get Oregonians to care about something they should already care about, then bottoms up.
Truth be told, COLT would like you to do more than just drink beer, but as Oregonians, you're sort of pegged as being local craft beer drinkers. It's one of our things. We also really love the outdoors, so getting you to drink a tasty brew while romping in or dreaming about ponds, waterfalls, high deserts or the coast isn't that big of an ask. But furtively, the land trusts need more user involvement, specifically in the form of volunteers or financial gifts.
COLT Executive Director Kelley Beamer is aware that most Oregonians who actively support their local land trusts skew toward older generations. And not that Boomers and the like don't love beer, too, but this campaign is aimed at citizens who've yet to contribute their time or ducats.
Correction: The original version of this story stated that Ferment Brewing partnered with Friends of the Columbia River Gorge. That was incorrect; they've partnered with Columbia Land Trust. We regret the error.