WRC Blog

Barley, Beer and a Brew for Rivers

Apr 2nd, 2019  |  Written by Western Rivers Conservancy

Barley, Beer and a Brew for Rivers
Photo by Dave Jensen

This spring, we’re bringing together two of our favorite things: craft beer and river conservation! Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is brewing a specialty IPA with climate-friendly barley grown by WRC on Rattray Ranch at Thirtymile Creek, in eastern Oregon. WRC bought the ranch in 2014 to deliver public access to the John Day River, at the heart of one of the most spectacular Wild and Scenic River corridors in the West. The session-style IPA will be called River Ride, named for the ranch’s premier location midway along the remote, 70-mile float down the lower John Day River canyon.

WRC’s efforts at Thirtymile Creek will conserve two ranches, including 10 miles of the main-stem John Day and nine miles of Thirtymile Creek, a lifeline for wild steelhead. WRC is transferring the ranches to the BLM, guaranteeing conservation and recreational access for all. While under WRC’s ownership, the upland agricultural fields have provided WRC the rare opportunity to experiment with a low-impact, climate-friendly crop: no-till barley.

In July, we successfully harvested our first crop: prime Wintmalt barley that meets Sierra Nevada’s high purity standards. Sierra Nevada is now using the barley to brew River Ride, a small-batch session IPA that will help raise awareness this summer about WRC. The beer will be featured on tap at the June Outdoor Retailer show in Denver, where hundreds of the world’s top outdoor brands gather for a four-day tradeshow. The beer will also be available on tap at select locations in Colorado and Oregon.

The end result is a win on every front: We conserve an outstanding reach of the John Day River for its exceptional fish and wildlife. We keep a local ranch in production. We deliver recreational access and raise awareness for WRC. And Sierra Nevada brews up some delicious beer, made with top-quality, climate-friendly barley from the John Day River. We’ll toast to that!