What is a brewshed®?
The term “brewshed®” refers to the watersheds where brewers and breweries source their water to brew craft beer. Beer is over 90% water, so the quality of this essential ingredient is paramount to the quality of the microbrew. Our purest, best-tasting water comes from rivers and streams flowing through unspoiled public forestlands. By protecting and restoring these forest watersheds, we’re protecting the source of Oregon craft beer.
The forest-water connection
The water drawn from the taps of two-thirds of Oregonians comes from our state’s rivers, streams and lakes. The source of many public drinking water supplies are forested watersheds. If these forests are intact, they play the role of natural reservoirs, absorbing, storing, filtering, and gradually releasing water to forest streams. This protects the purity of the water and consistency of its flows.
Logging, roadbuilding, and other development damages the forest’s ability to produce clean water. In heavily logged forests, water runs off more quickly carrying with it soil and debris that can foul water filtration systems further downstream. The volume of runoff also increases, reducing the amount of water available during the dry summer months when water demand is higher and supplies are lower. Cutting trees also reduces the amount of water that an old-growth conifer forest gathers from fog. This source is significant–accounting for as much as one-third of all precipitation in Portland’s Bull Run watershed. Extensive logging is also a bad deal for consumers. Not only is the quality of the municipal water worse, but added treatment and filtration is required, increasing the costs.
Bear Creek/Nicolai-Wickiup Watershed
Located in Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River, Fort George Brewery draws its water from Bear Creek inside the greater Nicolai-Wickiup watershed. The City of Astoria recently decided to cut back on timber harvests surrounding Bear Creek, not just for clean water, but to offset carbon emissions. Smart move! Letting trees grow older, and cutting fewer of them down, are part of how forests can be a great natural climate solution.
Around Astoria, most forests are privately owned, or managed by the State or local governments. They are subject to the Oregon Forest Practices Act, which allows clearcut logging and other damaging practices that can harm watersheds. New rules that Oregon Wild worked hard to enact will better protect streams and steep slopes from logging, so that we have better water quality and habitat for fish. That’s a huge benefit for water and beer-drinkers alike in the northern Oregon Coast Range!
Hike this Brewshed!