Why does Portland have such a massive variety of great beer? Is it because we’re a bunch of depressed alcoholics? That’s certainly at least a small part of it. Is it our access to an abundance of some of the best hops in the world? That’s a much bigger part of it. But there’s something more fundamental about it.
Is it something in the water?
It IS the water. What’s in it, or what’s not in it, where it comes from, and how it gets here.
90% of beer is water. I tell my guests I view water as “beer that hasn’t been brewed yet.” They laugh, but I’m not kidding. People drank beer as a means of staying hydrated before water treatment facilities existed. Nowadays, we drink beer because we like it, and we really like it when brewers use good, clean, soft water.
Portland’s city water comes from the Bull Run Watershed, which is about 20 miles outside of the city on the Sandy River. It is a well-protected area that only people who are doing important science stuff can access. You know it’s serious business when you have to tell Oregonians that they can’t go hiking somewhere. Anything anyone brings into the watershed with them must be taken out upon exiting. The point of all this is to protect the local ecology of the water to the greatest extent possible.
You can literally taste the results. Portland is also a rare American municipality in that we do not fluoridate our water. Some people think fluoride is the government’s way of controlling our brains. I gotta say, Portland politics makes for some strange bedfellows. Some amazing bedfellows, however, exist in the form of the Oregon Brewshed Alliance. An outreach initiative of Oregon Wild, the Oregon Brewshed Alliance works to protect our state’s waterways and educate the public. To learn more about your state’s waterways and how you can be proactive in protecting them, check out the Alliance website here.
That reminds me…BREWVANA’s 8th Anniversary is Monday, April 8th at Level Beer, and we’ll be holding a raffle with the proceeds benefiting Oregon Wild. We’ll also be releasing a collaborative beer with Level (which of course will come with a commemorative glass), have fun stuff for the kids (Level is very family-friendly), and EVERYONE is invited. Yeah, even you. So come drink beer (and water) with us.