We sometimes get too caught up on hops, malt and even yeast when we’re talking about brewing great beer, but we tend to overlook that it takes great tasting water to make great beer.
A group of local entities and breweries concerned with the health of our local watershed are joining forces—forming the Fountain Creek Brewshed Alliance. We caught up with Steve Oliveri from Bristol Brewing to find out more about the goals and plans for the group.
FOTB: Are there any parallels between the Brewshed Alliance and the Brewater watershed project that breweries in Fort Collins announced in April?
Steve: Last year I attended the Craft Brewers Conference and visited many of the sustainability panels. At one of those panels, I spoke with Katie Wallace, assistant director of sustainability at New Belgium, about Brewater. Inquiring into how Bristol could get involved with something similar, Katie recommended that we try to engage locally, in our own watershed. As my role at Bristol was evolving to focus more on employee development, Ivywild communications, and sustainability, I decided to investigate ways for Bristol to contribute to the health of our watershed. The first avenue I discovered was the Adopt-a-Waterway program through the city’s Water Resource Engineering (formerly the Stormwater division). Bristol adopted a portion of Cheyenne Creek and participated in 2016’s Creek Week, and I got to meet Allison Plute (with Colorado Springs Utilities) and Jerry Cordova (COS Water Resource Engineering). Chatting over some post-clean-up beers, the three of us started kicking around this idea of engaging more breweries in water health conversations in our community. After all, you can’t make beer without water, and the water in Colorado Springs makes pretty damn great beer. Additionally, with craft breweries establishing themselves across the city, the opportunities to engage our community in these types of conversations becomes easier and a lot more fun. We talked about Brewater and decided to start investigating what we would need to do to make something similar happen in our own city.
FOTB: I notice you use the registered trademark Brewshed® in your name…
Steve: The term Brewshed® was coined by an alliance in Washington, but there are now Brewsheds® forming across the Pacific Northwest(Washington, Oregon, Idaho). Allison did some terrifically diligent leg work to research those organizations and found a way for utilize the same term here in Colorado Springs. We reached out to every brewery in the Fountain Creek Watershed and invited them to a series of investigative conversations to see if more breweries in the city shared this interest in protecting our watershed and engaging our guests and fans in conversations about our watershed’s health. As it turns out, Bristol was far from the only brewery interested. Almost immediately, we had a growing coalition of breweries and water professionals interested in aligning ourselves around a mission.
FOTB: Right now, Bristol, Fieldhouse, Fossil, Great Storm, Peaks N Pines, Pikes Peak, Smiling Toad, Storybook and Triple S are members, but how does a brewery get involved?
Steve: That comes straight from our memorandum of understanding:
Participating Brewery undertake the following activities:
• Host a minimum of one fundraiser per year to support a clean watershed and the Creek Week cleanup program,
• Become a business partner of the City of Colorado Springs’ Adopt-a-Waterway program.
Additionally, the participating brewery will:
• Encourage employees and patrons to learn more about where their water/beer comes from, elevate the conversation around water, and initiate sustainable behaviors that will protect/enhance watershed health.
• Share information regarding watershed health and Brewshed® Alliance activities through marketing and social media channels, as capacity allows.
• Utilize provided Brewery Alliance maps, coasters, and window decal, and other educational materials in a public-facing brewery space.
• Attend quarterly Brewshed® Alliance meetings.
FOTB: Does it cost them anything?
Steve: This is important. We specifically did not want to make the “cost of entry” prohibitive to smaller breweries. At this stage in the Brewshed, the goal is to recognize the inherent strengths of breweries and pubs as gathering spaces in our communities. And if guests are putting value in craft beer as a quality product, that opens up space for conversation about the quality ingredients going into that beer. Water is (and should be) the ingredient that is always sourced locally for all breweries, so it seemed like a fitting industry to join in the conversation about what it means to protect that ingredient to ensure quality.
FOTB: So, imagine for a moment that I’m a new Alliance member. What would I be responsible for over the course of my membership?
Steve: It’s pretty simple. All Brewshed® Alliance Members are responsible for:
• Leasing the term Brewshed® from Washington Wild.
• Promoting the Fountain Creek Watershed District and Creek Week as sponsors of the Alliance
• Coordinating quarterly Brewshed® Alliance meetings at rotating locations, hosting educational events to empower partnering breweries and their customers with information regarding sustainable brewing practices, water quality, and watershed health.
• Developing and providing edu-taining maps, coasters, and a window decal to be utilized by participating breweries.
• Working with nonprofit partner Planet of Awe, the fiscal sponsor of the Fountain Creek Brewshed® Alliance.
As you can see from the expectations, there is an intention to form mutually-beneficial relationships. Breweries will have the opportunity to weigh in on how the Brewshed can help them with their craft. We hope to offer presentations/conversations with CS Utilities and City water professionals and talks with brewers in the industry who have wisdom to share regarding water as an ingredient.
FOTB: Thanks for sharing all this info!
Steve: Thank you for your interest in the movement! It really is my hope that this is something that benefits as many local breweries as want to be engaged. And through that, we can impact the lives of a diverse group of beer-drinkers in our city, demonstrating the importance of caring for our water resources, and establishing a stronger sense-of-place as those craft beer fans hopefully gain access to the knowledge of where our water comes from and what we can all do together to protect it.
If you’re looking for more information about the Fountain Creek Brewshed® Alliance, they’re having a launch party at Triple S this Friday!