Typically, when a non-beverage-focused brand announces that they’ve released their own line of craft beers, the move feels like a play at hipster vanity and best, and a desperate grasp to play in the waxing/waning world that is the modern beer movement at worst. But when that company is Patagonia, all presumptions disappear. This is the brand, after all, that dedicated their entire home page to protest the Trump administration when it announced a drastic reduction of Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument. Rather than pushing retail, the site portrayed a direct, stark message: “The President Stole Your Land.” It’s decisions like this throughout Patagonia’s 45-plus-year history that has helped the brand shrug off the old “Pata-gucci” dismissals to become one of the most relevant “activist companies” operating today, an identity that stretches from politics to recycle-and-repair apparel programs to eco-friendly product creation.
But the brand isn’t all waterproof layers, somber buzz kills, and business—as evidenced by the introduction of their damn beer. Mind you, this foray into craft brewing still aligns with Patagonia’s pro-environment standards. Part of the company’s Patagonia Provisions food/beverage line, they recently unveiled their second beer, the Long Root Wit, which is now offered alongside the Long Root Pale Ale, both served in 12-oz. cans adorned with the brand’s iconic mountain silhouette logo.
They joined forces with Portland, OR’s Hopworks Urban Brewery to craft both beers, leveraging the brand’s extensive history in sourcing eco-friendly farming products. Leaning into the trend of “organic regenerative agriculture” (a process that focuses growing solutions that restores soil, reduces carbon, and grows crops without chemicals), they partnered with the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, to use Kernza. This perennial grain boasts crazy-long root systems (10 feet of root for four feet of green—hence the “Long Root” name) that allow the crop to grow without tilling or pesticides. It also uses less water than conventional wheat, holds the soil in place, and prevents erosion.
Which is…great. But just like a jacket has to keep you dry regardless of how eco-friendly the fabric might be, the beer still has to be good. And we’re happy to report that both are great additions to the crowded shelves of the U.S. microbrew scene. The Pale Ale dropped a few years back, a Northwestern pale made with organic two-row barley, organic yeast, and organic Chinook, Mosaic, and Crystal hops along with the Kernza grain, producing an even bodied, balanced ale with hints of grapefruit bitterness and an even touch of malt that pours a clear gold with a modest white head. The newer Wit follows the traditional Belgian-style Witbier profile, brewed with coriander and orange peel along with Kerzna and a handful of other (you guess it) organic ingredients. This one drinks bright and refreshing, especially in as spring leans perpetually into summer, with the naturally sweet character of the Kernza nicely complimenting the hit of tartness. Both beers are available in relatively limited quantities right now, with distribution only in California, Colorado, and parts of the Pacific Northwest.
Patagonia has been well known for not wanting to go big. But here’s hoping they widen the Long Root distribution country-wide.