Take the Long Root home

By on November 16, 2016
The name “Long Root” exists for a reason. The roots of Kernza grain are 10 or more feet long. (Photo by Jim Richardson)

The name “Long Root” exists for a reason. The roots of Kernza grain are 10 or more feet long. (Photo by Jim Richardson)

The folks at Hopworks Urban Brewery were kind enough to send out samples of their newest project beer, Long Root Ale. HUB is based out of Portland, Ore., so why is it showing up in a Lancaster County column? Agriculture.

When I heard about Long Root I immediately reflected on our area’s rich tradition of farming. Corn, tobacco, and soy make for great cash crops here. Some of that corn may make it into popular beers (Corona, Miller Lite, PBR). Traditionally brewed with some kind of grain — wheat, rye, and most often malted barley — beer is an agricultural pillar.

Adhering to their motto of “using beer as a force for good,” HUB teamed up with Patagonia Provisions (from the parent clothing company who popularized fleece in the ‘80s) to create a beer to revolutionize brewing while significantly benefiting the environment. As its grain component Long Root uses Kernza (a registered trademark of The Land Institute), which is a perennial grain grown using regenerative agriculture practices. I had to look it up. Regenerative agriculture is defined as a practice of organic farming, which helps build soil health or regenerates unhealthy soil. The crop is a perennial, so it doesn’t need to be sowed each year. While the aboveground component of Kernza stands four feet high, the roots tower ten or more feet below the surface.

Christian Ettinger, brewmaster and founder of HUB, says “Kernza has a bright future in beer.”

Long Root Ale, not yet available here in Pennsylvania, is organically brewed. (Photo by Michael Upton)

Long Root Ale, not yet available here in Pennsylvania, is organically brewed. (Photo by Michael Upton)

He was drawn to the grain because of its ability to help the environment, but also says the grain imports a unique flavor perfect for beer. Long Root is 100 percent organic and is just the first step creating beer with Kernza; in fact, the beer is brewed with only 15 percent of the grain. The remaining malt bill is filled with two-row barley.

Long Root pours a rich and freshly aromatic head. The beer was hoppier than what I expected, but has a light, crisp finish. It is effervescent with a wonderful mouthfeel. Hop heads will love this brew (Chinook, Mosaic, and Crystal).

The long and short of it (pun intended) is that Long Root is a good beer for palates and the world. The beer was released in October and is currently only available in California, Oregon and Washington. I would expect that to change once word gets out.

Most of the brews coming out of HUB are organic. Organic brewing has yet to catch on here in Pennsylvania, but there are still some organic beers available locally. Probably the first organic beer ever was British brewer Samuel Smith’s Organic Best Ale. Look for the “old-timey” label at any place selling good imports. Another popular organic beer is coming out of the other Portland (Maine, which has had a strong microbrewery presence for decades); Peak Organic Brewery puts out more than 20 different varieties. Peak beers can be found regularly at Lancaster’s The Fridge and Hunger N Thirst, sometimes even on tap. I highly recommend Peak’s Fresh Cut pilsner.

Cheers and thanks for reading!

Michael C. Upton is a freelance writer specializing in arts and leisure. He welcomes comments at somepromcu@gmail.com and facebook.com/SomebodiesProductions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *