Patagonia is making beer from kernza, a perennial grain

Patagonia kernza beers
© Amy Kumler/Patagonia (used with permission)

The company wants to demonstrates how the global food system can be more sustainable.

Patagonia is not your typical outdoor gear retailer. This privately-owned company does not shy away from opportunities to take a political stance, to mount counterintuitive advertising campaigns, and to seek more sustainable ways of doing business.

So, really, we shouldn't be all that surprised that it has made a foray into the food world, of all things, and has even started brewing beer! Two years ago it launched its first beer, Long Root Pale Ale, to much fanfare. This week, the second in that series was released, an organic Belgian-style beer called Long Root Wit.

What makes these beers unique is that they're both made from Kernza, a perennial grain that is grown using regenerative agriculture practices. From the website:

"Kernza’s long root system and perennial growth allow it to thrive without tilling, preserving precious top soil. It also uses less water than conventional annual wheat, removes more carbon from the atmosphere and makes one d*mn good beer."

Patagonia Provisions, which is the company's food-based offshoot, believes that the future of farming lies in regenerative organic agriculture – "a practice that restores soil biodiversity, sequesters carbon and grows crops all without chemical fertilizers or pesticides."

Kernza roots© Jim Richardson/Patagonia (used with permission) – Wes Jackson of the Land Institute is pictured beside some kernza roots

It has been working with the Land Institute in Kansas to cultivate Kernza and with Hopworks Urban Brewery in Portland to transform it into a beer that it hopes can be a model for the industry. There's no reason why other brewers can't turn to more resilient grains like kernza to make their tasty beverages (especially if barley crops plummet due to climate change, as predicted).

My only complaint is that the beer comes in aluminium cans, rather than refillable glass bottles. As Lloyd continues to tell TreeHugger readers on a regular basis, every single beer can is lined with BPA-laden epoxy to keep the beer from tasting like aluminum, and that's something we should all be avoiding like the plague.

"Face the fact that by drinking beer in a can, you are getting micro-doses of BPA (a Canadian study proved it), and that because it is a hormone, some studies have shown that it only takes a few molecules to cause trouble. Millennial moms-to-be are consuming an 'ovarian toxicant' that could cause their sons to get prostate cancer."

girl holding Long Root Wit can© Amy Kumler/Patagonia (used with permission)

Patagonia would oh-so-much cooler if it went the reusable route. But hey, if you're willing to take the risk, you can find Long Root Wit at Whole Foods and other independent grocers in California, Washington, Oregon, and Colorado.

Patagonia is making beer from kernza, a perennial grain
The company wants to demonstrates how the global food system can be more sustainable.

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