Beer in the Wild

Kayakers love beer. Well, everybody loves beer, but with kayaking, it’s part of the sport. Without beer, can kayaking even exist? I’m doubtful. Typically, drinking is associated with debauchery and recklessness, but kayakers and brewers share a deep-rooted connection beyond the veneer of immoderation.

Clearly, the connection is water. Kayakers spend hundreds of hours observing and debating the physical aspects of a river, determining the line and discussing safety. Brewers, too, go deep into water’s properties, choosing the purest source and mineral content that will produce the best beer.

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As we’ve drifted south from Montana to Idaho, then Oregon, and now California, we’ve tasted the waters of many rivers (boiling it for coffee, swimming rapids, drinking bootie beers…) it’s amazing how the river’s character changes based on geography, geology, flora and fauna. Similarly, the water itself changes. Today, we paddled the Stanislaus river; all the way down here in the highly-populated (by Montana standards) areas, empty plastic bottles tumble down the rapids alongside us. We realized how privileged we have been, paddling the pristine waters of the northwest.

Our friends at MAP Brewing and Bozeman Brewing know this well. Their beers are produced high in headwaters country, where the water is pure and flavorful. Their beers are similarly excellent. (I promise I’ve never put one in my shoe!) They rely on the cleanliness of the rivers just as much as the kayakers and the fishermen do to provide the finest quality brews.

The preservation of pristine rivers is something kayakers, brewers, and all beer-drinkers can find common ground on. With direction from organizations like ASC, we can help understand watersheds better and find more sustainable ways to treat them. With careful stewardship, rivers can be a resource for every use.

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