PORTLAND, Ore. — January 9, 2014 — Widmer Brothers Brewing today announced the return of Columbia Common Spring Ale, the brewery’s take on a California common-style beer, as its spring seasonal. First introduced in 2013, Columbia Common is brewed to showcase historic Columbia hops, a once-popular hop varietal that was near extinction when Widmer Brothers began developing the Columbia Common recipe in 2012.
“We’re always experimenting with unique hop varietals, and we were intrigued by the Columbia hop’s story and its character,” said Joe Casey, brewmaster. “Columbia hops, a sister varietal to Willamette hops, lost popularity decades ago as Willamettes became the hop of choice for some larger breweries in the United States. They nearly disappeared until a local hop grower, Annen Brothers in Mt. Angel, Oregon, worked with Oregon State University to revive them. We really enjoy the beers we’ve brewed with Columbia hops and have purchased nearly all of the Columbia hops they’ve grown.”
The Columbia hop has a clean, mild, pleasantly floral and slightly spicy profile, characters that are also reflected in the easy-drinking Columbia Common Spring Ale. Widmer Brothers is the only brewery that currently uses the Columbia hop commercially.
As part of its commitment to environmental sustainability, Widmer Brothers continues to partner with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) to offset 100 percent of the water used by the brewery to brew Columbia Common. Last year, Widmer Brothers restored 500,000 gallons of water to the Middle Deschutes River, and the brewery will be restoring another 500,000 gallons of water in 2014 for a total of 1 million gallons over two years. The water restoration is made possible through the purchase of BEF Water Restoration Certificates┬« or “water offsets” to offset the brewery’s water consumption.
Widmer Brothers will fully offset the nearly 500,000 gallons of water that will be used to brew this year’s entire production of Columbia Common Spring Ale, making this spring seasonal entirely “water neutral” and further contributing to the Deschutes River restoration efforts.
“We are constantly looking for ways to lessen our environmental impact,” said Julia Person, sustainability coordinator. “We have reduced our water usage to about 4.2 gallons of water per gallon of beer, which is significantly lower than the industry standard. The water offsets through the Bonneville Environmental Foundation provided us with another great way to make a positive contribution to Oregon’s natural resources.”
Columbia Common is available in markets across the country on draught and in six- and 12-packs until May 2014. Columbia Common is also available in the Widmer Brothers Brothers’ Best variety packs until May.
About Widmer Brothers Brewing
What started as a dream for two ordinary brothers who just loved beer has now become a reality for two ordinary brothers who still just love beer. Kurt and Rob Widmer helped lead the Pacific Northwest craft beer movement in 1984 when, in their 20s, they dreamed of brewing unique interpretations of traditional beer styles. In 1986, Widmer Brothers Brewing introduced the first American-style Hefeweizen; today, the unfiltered cloudy beer is the company’s signature brew and one of the best-selling wheat beers in the country. Based in Portland, Ore., the brewery currently brews a variety of beers including Alchemy Pale Ale, the Rotator IPA series, Pitch Black IPA, Nelson Imperial IPA, a limited edition Brothers’ Reserve Series and a full seasonal lineup.
Columbia Common Spring Ale
The Columbia hop was near extinction when we helped bring it back to create this crisp, easy drinking common-style beer. With a rich amber hue, Columbia Common has mild grassy and spicy hop notes that are complemented by a subtle fruity character and clean finish brought on by the use of Hefeweizen and lager yeasts. It’s the perfect beer for spring.
Malts: 2-Row Pale, Munich 20L, Caramel 40L, Chocolate Malt
Hops: Alchemy for bittering, Columbia and Willamette for aroma
Original Gravity: 11.75 Plato
About the BEF, Middle Deschutes River Project
All BEF Water Restoration Certificates┬« projects are certified by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s strict set of criteria to ensure flow is restored to the environment in locations and at a time that will have optimum environmental benefit.
The Middle Deschutes River is a 35-mile section of the iconic Deschutes River that flows between the city of Bend and Lake Billy Chinook, Oregon. In this section of the river, deep canyons and public lands comprise one of the most scenic desert canyons in the state of Oregon. Red-band trout, otters, ospreys, and myriad wildlife species inhabit this section of river and depend on clean, healthy flows of water.
However, historically most of the flow to the middle Deschutes River was diverted near the City of Bend, Ore., to serve agricultural needs throughout central Oregon. Thanks to partnerships with businesses, the Deschutes River Conservancy, and local irrigation districts, 488 million gallons of water have already been restored to this section of the Deschutes River.