Jolby / Oregon I Am / COLT

For those who love the great outdoors and craft brews, a new project has your name written all over it.

Eight Oregon breweries, including Portland’s Von Ebert and Little Beast, have each created beers called The Oregon I Am in support of the Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts (COLT). COLT is the statewide association consisting of thirty nonprofit land trusts, organizations that take authority over—or in some cases ownership of—a property at the behest of the private owner. The main gist is that these are the areas where we hike, kayak, or quietly marvel at Mother Nature and, in an attempt to further conserve and preserve them, you can drink beer to help.

In launching this campaign, COLT would love nothing more than for you to drink any or all of the eight Oregon I Am beers, which will be available mostly in 16-ounce packages, at the 80-plus public locales the beers are designed to promote. In fact, a map (from Jolby’s creative studio) of said open-access lands can be found online.

The map even tells you which places allow dogs. (But it doesn’t tell you if the babbling brooks or painted hills pair best with a pilsner or an IPA.)

The breweries were tasked to develop beers that embodied the Oregon they are. Little Beast brewed its first-ever beer that focuses on Oregon’s home-spun fruit, the mighty marionberry. Brewmaster and co-owner Charles Porter earned dual degrees in biology and environmental science. He’s also the father of two young Oregonians.

“We actually haven’t thought about the future enough,” said Porter.

Little Beast’s sour ale receives its purple hue from the 250 pounds of pureed marionberries he used (to the walloping tune of some twelve pounds per barrel) and ought to conjure memories of picking fresh berries along many a hike. It should be noted that Forest Park is managed by the Forest Park Conservancy, one of COLT’s members.

Von Ebert Brewing founder Tom Cook leapt at the opportunity to get involved with the project because part of the company’s mission is Kaizen—the Sino-Japanese word for "improvement." This Japanese business model is laser-focused on improvement in all aspects, involving everyone from employees to CEOs. That improvement, said Cook, “can’t be just about the beer. It’s got to be about our community. How do we do our part to continuously improve our state and our neighbors?”

The beer created by head brewer Sam Pecoraro is what Von Ebert calls a “petit IPA.” The five-percenter gleans its berry notes not from marion or any other Oregon-grown berries but from a mélange of hops—mostly the craft darling varietal, Mosaic.

“We used Mosaic Incognito and Mosaic Cryo,” said Pecoraro, explaining that the former is an extract made from the hops oils while the latter is a pelletized concentrate. It’s not from Oregon, but he also added an Australian varietal called Enigma to embellish the berry character. “This beer leans to berry, resin, and pine—things that make us think of being outdoors in Oregon.”

The other breweries are Wolves & People in Newberg, Terminal Gravity in Enterprise, Eugene’s Ninkasi and Oakshire, Crux Fermentation Project in Bend, and Ferment Brewing in Hood River.

Oregonian touches abound, from Ferment partnering with Columbia Land Trust to Crux—not just brewing a beer for the great outdoors, but in the great outdoors. Crux’s “experimental IPA” was made at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve stewarded by the Deschutes Land Trust. Crux hauled out a massive pan called a coolship that allows for spontaneous fermentation, inviting in ambient yeast. Brewmaster Larry Sidor and his team did have to pitch a fast-fermenting yeast strain called Kveik in order to have the beer ready for the project’s debut this week.

“I’m looking forward to trying all of them,” said Cook. “I continue to be impressed with these types of projects, with the time and effort breweries put into them. Ten times out of ten, these one-off projects yield some fabulous beer.”

Again, the purpose of all this is to inspire people to get involved with these protection and conservation efforts to ensure not just that the land trusts survive, but the lands themselves. If it takes an eight-pack of terroir-driven beers to get Oregonians to care about something they should already care about, then bottoms up.

While the canned beers are now available, visit Little Beast or either of Von Ebert’s Pearl or Glendoveer pubs on June 25—or other participating breweries if you find yourself in Enterprise or Eugene—for a toast during happy hour from 4:30-6 pm. A virtual happy hour with introductions to the project and beers will take place online (register here to tune in).

Truth be told, COLT would like you to do more than just drink beer, but as Oregonians, you’re sort of pegged as being local craft beer drinkers. It’s one of our things. We also really love the outdoors, so getting you to drink a tasty brew while romping in or dreaming about ponds, waterfalls, high deserts, or the coast isn’t that big of an ask. But furtively, the land trusts need more user involvement, specifically in the form of volunteers or financial gifts.

Executive director Kelley Beamer is aware that most Oregonians who actively support their local land trusts—which are nonprofit organizations designed to conserve land for the greater good though funded and fueled by donors and volunteers—skew toward older generations. And not that Boomers and the like don’t love beer, too, but this campaign is aimed at citizens who’ve yet to contribute their time or ducats.

The project, Beammer said, “is an invitation to step outside and discover ourselves in this magical land, to safely connect to each other and to our favorite Oregon places—including ones we have yet to discover.”