Patagonia's rich history of outfitting the world's top adventurers adds another important chapter as the company launches its first beer. Long Root Ale, produced with Hopworks Urban Brewery, introduces a new grain to brewing, all while offering the perfect way to wind down after a big day. The beer is a malt-focused, 5.5 percent alcohol amber ale with a subtle complement of citrus-like American hops.
Patagonia Provisions, the outfitter's branch devoted to offering food and drink that makes positive change in the food industry, created the beer. And Long Root lives up to that mission. The ale is brewed with organic hops and barley, as well a new "superwheat" called Kernza. Developed at agricultural research center The Land Institute, Kernza is a perennial wheatgrass that greatly reduces the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere, because after the initial planting, the soil doesn't need tilling. It also requires significantly less input from farmers, as the perennial root system grows down more than 10 feet, giving it access to more of its own water and nutrients.
Patagonia also teamed up with a fellow environmental steward in Portland, Oregon's Hopworks. The brewery diverts 99 percent of its waste from landfills, with the goal of eventually hitting 100 percent. Its Williams Avenue brewpub boasts a net-zero energy efficiency, meaning it produces as much renewable energy as it uses. And the brewing operation, typically the bane of anyone concerned with water conservation, uses just 3.4 gallons to make a gallon of beer — that's less than half the industry standard.
And yes, the beer is quite good, even without the sudsy karma surrounding it. Hopworks, a longtime favorite brewery of Men's Journal, has a reputation for sourcing hops and barley that are a cut above in terms of flavor. The Long Root Ale is no different. It uses organic pale barley for the base of the recipe, along with a blend of Chinook, Crystal, and Mosaic hops for bitterness and a mild grapefruit aroma. The barley and Kernza, however, take center stage with a toasty, earthy, slightly sweet character that sets this apart from your average amber ale.
Long Root Ale is now available in four-packs of 16-ounce cans ($10) in Washington, Oregon, and California. If you live on the West Coast, you can find your nearest retailer here.