ENTERPRISE — Terminal Gravity Brewing Co. is cracking open a cold one — and a new one — to help the Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts promote its new “The Oregon I Am” map.
The Enterprise-based brewery is among eight from around the state that have created a limited-edition beer for the purpose of helping COLT’s map, which highlights 81 locations across Oregon — including two in Wallowa County — that are preserved by the state’s land trust system.
“Taking a whole step back, this is about a celebration of place, a celebration of people and of Oregon,” COLT Executive Director Kelley Beamer said. “These landscapes that our land trusts are protecting inspire many things. The angle with covering the breweries is they inspire food and drinks, and beer in particular. There have been examples in the past of breweries working with land trusts.”
Terminal Gravity is the lone brewery east of Bend taking part in the collaborative effort. The East Moraine and Zumwalt Prairie Preserve are two Wallowa County lands featured in “The Oregon I Am” map.
Grady Nelson, Terminal Gravity’s marketing manager, said when COLT reached out around the first part of spring to ask if the brewery would take part, TG viewed it as a “cool opportunity for a unique beer, or do something different for us.”
“We’ve always felt the connection to Oregon as a brewery being in Wallowa County,” Grady said. “It is just a beautiful area to be. We feel lucky to be in Wallowa County and in Oregon in general. We thought it was a cool project. And a lot of our customers are outdoorsy people, who enjoy backpacking, hiking, skiing. That is who our customer base is a lot of times. It felt like we were in a good place to support the project and get the word about the projects that our customers might connect with and relate to.”
TG’s typical brewing rotation largely features India pale ale, English ales or German ales.
But COLT asked for a beer inspired by Oregon, according to Nelson, so the TG team looked in its own backyard for inspiration, and selected an addition from a popular Northeastern Oregon pass time — huckleberry picking.
“Since so many of our employees like picking huckleberries,” he said, “it made sense to make a beer with huckleberries in it, make it a sour (beer), and not something we always do. It excites our brewers to make new stuff.”
Enter the Huckleberry Sour Ale, a beer brewed with wheat and huckleberries, and one that didn’t take many attempts to perfect.
“We did one brew in our pilot system — which is basically one barrel, which gives you about two kegs,” Nelson said. “We do it on a small scale first. We did just one brew on the pilot system, liked it, but tweaked it.”
After adding just a bit more huckleberry, “we felt like we had a recipe that made the beer we wanted.”
He added it’s a lighter beer, one that could result in people trying a sour ale who may not otherwise.
“It’s just a really light and refreshing sour — I think a sour lover would love it,” he said.
Nelson said it not only gave TG an opportunity to help COLT, but also to promote efforts made by the Wallowa Land Trust.
“We want to highlight Wallowa Land Trust and the work they do. It felt like an opportunity to highlight the work they do around here with the moraine project,” he said. “We really love what they do. It’s cool we have a local land trust like them.”
Terminal Gravity, in fact, is donating 10% of the beer’s package sales at the pub to the East Moraine Stewardship Fund.
Beamer said the collaboration was seen as a way to draw in a younger group, too.
“The audience we want to engage more is younger people. The majority of land trust members are over the age of 60,” she said. “This would be a great engagement point. … It was about reaching a younger audience, and probably reaching an audience that hadn’t heard about what a land trust was. We (can) connect them to our maps, connect them to our places (and) inspire them to visit.”
A virtual happy hour will be held on June 25, with each of the eight breweries sharing the story behind their individual brews and work with their local land trusts.
As for the Huckleberry Sour Ale itself, it will be available in Northeastern Oregon only at TG pub, which produced enough for only 100 cases and six kegs for the tap.
“We’re always open to re-brewing things,” Nelson said. “That’s to be determined, but for now that is a one-off.”