A green beer that looks like algae
There are spicy beers and even peanut butter beers, made to stand out on crowded shelves, now there's a murky, green brew that looks a lot like algae. It's making a statement on the one ingredient brewers can't do without — clean water.
The ghastly-looking "Alegae Bloom" beer made by Maumee Bay Brewing Co., which relies on Lake Erie for its water, is a good conversation starter that reminds customers about the toxic algae that show up each year in the shallowest of the Great Lakes, said brewery manager Craig Kerr.
Workers came up with the idea last summer when a thick coat of algae settled into a creek alongside its brewhouse.
"We're going to keep doing this until the algae bloom isn't there anymore," Kerr said. "The goal is to never make this beer again."
Craft brewers nationwide are pushing for strong environmental regulations while also working to preserve rivers and streams, all in the name of water. A growing number are getting involved at a time when the Trump administration is seeking to do away with a rule that a group of brewers say protects water sources from pollution.
A group of brewers in Michigan voted this year to back shutting down an ageing oil pipeline where lakes Huron and Michigan meet because it could be vulnerable to leaks.
"This is my livelihood," said Larry Bell, owner of Bell's Brewery. "It's a business issue for us, but it's also good for the community and society that we have clean water.
He got a close look at how vulnerable the water supply is after a pipeline spilt oil near his brewing facility in 2010.
Some craft breweries in Salem, Oregon, stopped making beer for several weeks in June after algae bloom led to a drinking water warning for the young and sick.
Ian Croxall, a co-owner of Santiam Brewing in Salem, said they could've stayed open, but customers were asking "if the beer was being made with toxic water." The brewery lost about $40,000 and spent another $5,000 on a new filtration system in case the toxins return, he said.
Craft brewers say it's their duty to protect the water they use. Beer is about 90 percent water, after all.
Atlanta's SweetWater Brewing Co. and Swamp Head Brewery in Gainesville, Florida, trace their involvement in clean water campaigns to founders who saw protecting the environment as part of their business model.
"We didn't ask politics to get involved in beer," Wallace said. "But they did when our No. 1 ingredient is being threatened."