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Weekend Agenda: Brewing Beer for Wild Rivers

The Wild & Scenic IPA, brewed by Peddler and Counterbalance brewing, is a beer brewed with river conservation in mind. The two breweries, members of WA Wild's Brewshed Alliance, teamed up with WA Wild to release a limited edition IPA that helps support initiatives to increase the number of Wild & Scenic Rivers in the state of Washington. In their minds, pristine rivers and delicious beers go hand-in-hand. When we heard about this combination of two of our favorite things, craft beer and conservation, we knew we had to learn more. We got a chance to sit down with the director of WA Wild’s Brewshed Alliance, Ariel West, and co-owner of Peddler, Haley Keller, to discuss craft beer, Wild & Scenic Rivers, and environmental advocacy. (All over a couple pints of Wild & Scenic IPA of course)

Can you give me a little background on Peddler?

Haley: My husband and I started this business about 5 years ago, we didn’t have a ton of experience in breweries, but Dave had been a homebrewer for about 10 years. His homebrewing hobby was starting to take over our living space to say the least. So we were kind of thinking about what we wanted to do in life; I was a high school math teacher and Dave was an engineer at Boeing and we felt like there wasn’t any change in the foreseeable future and we wanted to explore something new.  I had always wanted to start a business with a customer service focus. Dave had the brewing passion. So we decided we would start a brewery! Dave hopped on his bike and starting looking for a location, and then found this spot in Ballard. So we just decided to go for it and make the leap. When we started thinking about a name, we really wanted the brewery to fit the community and our passion for cycling, so Peddler Brewery was born.

What exactly is the Brewshed Alliance?

Ariel: The Brewshed Alliance was started about 5 years ago within WA Wild when we decided that we care deeply about clean watersheds and we needed to do more to protect them. Wild forests act as a great natural filter to provide us with clean water all the way down to the Puget Sound. We also realized the connection between the fact that there is a ton of good beer in WA and it comes from quality clean water. It was very informal at first, we approached breweries with “Hey, we both like clean water and good beer, right?” Peddler was actually one of the first 8 breweries to join us, but it has now grown to 55 breweries and brewpub partners across the state. We're really trying to build a community in the brewing industry that connects brewers to doing good, but also doing good for something that really matters to them as a business and something they feel good getting behind.

How did Peddler decide to join the Brewshed?

Haley: We do a lot of events and partnering with nonprofits and we really focus on mostly cycling and environmental issues, the issues we are most passionate about. So when WA Wild reached out, it was a natural connection. We are very lucky to have brew-ready water coming out of the tap in this state. In many areas you have to do all sorts of filtration before you can even begin brewing, but not in Washington, which is really special and something worth protecting. It’s a very unique connection between beer and clean water and one that a lot of people don’t usually think about. WA Wild has done a great job highlighting that connection and we are happy to support them.

What is the “Year of the River” and what are Wild & Scenic rivers all about?

Ariel: This year we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Wild & Scenic Rivers act, so it has been dubbed the “Year of the River”. Wild & Scenic is to rivers what Wilderness is to land. It is the highest level of protection, and prevents any new development within a quarter mile of the river. It’s all about trying to keep the river as free flowing and wild as possible. We currently only have about 250 miles of Wild & Scenic river in Washington, which compared to Oregon’s 2000 miles is kind of a bummer. But, we currently have an initiative in congress to designate 460 miles of Wild & Scenic rivers on the Olympic Peninsula. So we are really trying to bring awareness to Wild & Scenic efforts this year.

Where did the idea for a Wild & Scenic IPA come from?

Haley: We did a collaboration beer last year with WA Wild and we loved the whole experience. It was great to work with other brewers and learn their processes and systems, while at the same time being able to support WA Wild. So we were looking for another collaboration beer to brew. I reached out to Ariel and asked her how we could support them, and she pointed me in the direction of the Wild & Scenic rivers initiatives. We also wanted to collaborate with another brewery, and we knew the owners of Counterbalance from way back, so it was great to get to work with them. In fitting with the theme of Wild & Scenic, we were able to get the malt donated from a farm on the banks of the Skagit River, which is celebrating its 40th year of Wild & Scenic designation. So it was really able to come full circle.

Where do the proceeds from sale of the beer go? What efforts is it supporting?

Ariel: $1 from every pint sold goes to WA Wild and my programs, which brings in money specifically for the water/rivers side of our efforts. We have a bunch of initiatives that we are always working on that are longer term things, including the Puget Sound Headwaters initiative. In which we are looking to draw attention and protection to the middle/upper elevations of the watersheds in Puget Sound. Additionally we support large initiatives like the current Wild Olympics campaign. The majority of our work is centered around policy, advocacy, and awareness; and all of the funding goes directly to help supporting these efforts.

What role do you think business should play in environmental advocacy?

Haley: One thing that I have really learned, is that as a business owner, people listen to you more. In a way that kind of shocked me at first, that being just somebody who lives in a neighborhood and has a voice, should be as important as somebody that owns a business. But there is something a bit stronger that comes through when you are saying something from the perspective of a business owner. So I think that taking that voice and really using it for creating the positive changes that you want in your community is important. Not only the financial aspects that you can give, but also what you can say. We really try to be a community gathering space and a place where non-profits and groups can come together for an event or a fundraiser. We actually have an event tomorrow night with WA Wild showcasing public lands films! We love being able to use our platform to support issues and causes that we are passionate about.


Check out Peddler's website to learn more about their upcoming events.

Learn more about the Brewshed Alliance here

If you are interested, sign this petition to help support Wild & Scenic rivers on the Olympic Peninsula! 

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