Hopworks Urban Brewery Collaborates with Patagonia Provisions


Christian Ettinger thought he was being pranked.

“It was too good to be true,” Ettinger, the brewmaster and founder of Portland, Oregon’s Hopworks Urban Brewery, said of a June offer to collaborate with Patagonia Provisions, the sustainable food branch of the popular outdoor clothing company.

The pitch? Brew the first commercially-available craft beer using Kernza, an experimental grain that’s grown with regenerative agricultural practices.

One day later, representatives from Patagonia Provisions were giving Ettinger a lesson on a grain he’d surprisingly never heard of, despite his commitment to organic ingredients and sustainable-brewing practices.

“As organic brewers, we have our ears to the tracks,” Ettinger said. “This is a very innovative grain.


Patagonia Provisions, he said, was “interested in deploying it in a meaningful way,” and they wanted to use beer as the entry point.

The result of Hopworks’ collaboration with Patagonia Provisions is Long Root Ale, a Northwest-style pale ale made with 15 percent of the experimental perennial grain, which “adds a slight spiciness to the dry, crisp finish,” according to a press release.

The recipe for Long Root Ale includes organic two-row barley, organic yeast, and a blend of organic Northwest hops which, the release adds, gives the beer “resinous, grapefruit hop aromas and flavor and a balanced maltiness.”

But what makes Kernza — a grain developed by the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas — special is its long roots and perennial growth, which allow the grain to thrive without pesticides, according to the release. Kernza uses less water than conventional wheat, which helps reduce soil erosion and removes more carbon from the atmosphere than annual grains.

Ettinger compared Kernza to grass that has been mowed.

“You cut it down but it leaves the rootstock intact,” he said. “The long taproot looks like a ZZ Top beard. It digs deep, and the deeper it digs, the more groundwater it uses.”


Hopworks and Patagonia Provisions agreed that Long Root Ale should be a hop-forward offering, which Ettinger said “landed right in the middle of a West Coast pale ale with crystal and mosaic hops.”

Hopworks brewed 6,000 cases of Long Root Ale, Ettinger said, which will be sold in 16 oz. cans at Whole Foods stores throughout California, Washington and Oregon. The brewery will also sell a limited amount of the beer on draft and at its taprooms in Portland and at Miir flagship store in Seattle.

“Every case is 24 cans, and that’s 24 conversations,” Ettinger said. “We want to start small and grow at a rate that is meaningful.”

This isn’t a one-off collaboration with Patagonia Provisions either, Ettinger said.

“The relationship is a long-term thing,” he said. “The beauty of sustainability is getting to know the people responsible and developing relationships.”

Although Hopworks hasn’t discussed any sort of exclusivity agreement with Patagonia Provisions, Ettinger told Brewbound that he plans to brew additional beers with the grain.

“We owe it to Kernza to use more of it and innovate with it going forward in the future,” he said. “It holds some really nice secrets that we want to reveal.”

But keeping the grain from other brewers isn’t something Hopworks is after.

“The way sustainability works, and the way we operate and the way Patagonia works, it’s an open source,” Ettinger said. “Guarding anything that’s a breakthrough violates the premises of sustainability. You have to share it. As a business and community, you have to share and grow the demand for the planet to win. It’s an honor to work with a grain that could change the world.”

For further reading, Bloomberg takes a longer look Patagonia Provisions and discusses Long Root Ale.

Long Root Ale from Patagonia on Vimeo.