Terroir Taints Local Beers

Brewers Turn to Nearby Farmers for Ingredients

A “local” beer once meant a beer brewed at your neighborhood brewpub or at a brewery in this county or the next. That’s all it took, for we never much considered that the ingredients were grown far, far away and imported across plains and mountains and deserts. But this season, “local” really means “local,” as several breweries nationwide have released beers brewed from ingredients grown almost within shouting distance of the beer vats. Lakefront Brewery in Wisconsin has contracted with grain farmers about 100 miles away to supply both barley and hops for its new Local Acre Lager. And in Newport, Oregon, Rogue has produced an “all-Oregon” beer using Klamath Valley barley, estate-grown hops, local river water, a house yeast culture, and even Oregon bottles. Leading the trend, though, may be Chico’s Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. The giant craft brewery released its first Estate Brewers Harvest Ale this year, a wet-hopped IPA running 6.7 percent ABV and brewed with estate-grown hops and barley harvested just a mile from the brewery. As such, the beer is a distinct taste of Butte County soil, and winemakers, it seems, must now begin sharing their regal concept of terroir with makers of truly local beer.

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