Beer of the Week: Kernza Lager

Pure Project Brewing partners with Patagonia Provisions to spotlight an organic, regeneratively grown grain

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Until this week, my only experience with Patagonia had been purchasing their active apparel for my running and hiking. I do one or the other activity every day, so I need activewear that will last, and theirs has proven tops in that department. There’s just no substitute for quality and substance, and that applies to the beer industry, as well. Quality is paramount when it comes to making fans and inspiring consumers to pay more for something better (craft) over some cheap commodity (macro-beer). And substance is something that, for all the talk of how important differentiation is in the marketplace, can really set a business apart from the pack. The best part about substance is that it can’t be faked. Those who are paying attention will see right through marketing gimmicks devised to make a brewery look wholesome, engaged or driven by a higher purpose when they aren’t. And for those that actually have heart and the desire to make a difference, not only can they garner patrons, but even better yet, like-minded fans who will help them achieve their goals. Enter Pure Project Brewing and this week’s featured beer, Kernza Lager. This Vista-based 1% for the Planet company has made saving the Earth as much its mission as brewing high-quality beer. In the best cases, both goals are worked toward simultaneously, such as the business’ recent partnering with Patagonia Provisions, an offshoot of the Ventura-based company focused on supporting regenerative organic farming to help improve soil health as a means for combating climate change. Joining a coalition of 21 breweries, including the likes of Maui Brewing, Sierra Nevada Brewing and Allagash Brewing, Pure Project has brewed a lager utilizing an organic, wheat-like perennial grain with soil-regenerative properties. The beer and the grain share the same name, Kernza, and the former is currently on-tap at Pure Project’s quintet of San Diego County taprooms. I hear you posing the obvious question: But how does it taste? (Wow, I haven’t busted that gem out in a while.) Being a lower-alcohol lager, it’s not obtrusive or overdone; subtlety is key and there are plenty of little things to love about it. The nose smells of cereal grain with an uplifting touch of lemony citrus, and is followed by more of the same on the taste buds plus light notes of melon and Fruit Loops. It’s a soft but flavorful lager that, awesome do-gooder mission or not, would make for a brilliant year-round go-to beer.

Promoting sustainable ingredients is a foundational part of Pure Project’s ethos. We are extremely excited to take that to the next level in partnership with Patagonia Provisions, brewing a beer with an organic and regenerative ingredient, Kernza. The best part of this collaboration is the built-in demand that Patagonia Provisions has created for a grower who wants to go above and beyond what is required by USDA Organic certification. It can be extremely risky for farms to take on regenerative growing and business practices because of additional costs that may price their product out of the market. Thanks to Patagonia Provisions, we and our fellow Kernza Lager brewers have guaranteed demand for regenerative farming practices that benefit the soil and environment, and support the workers and community. As a brewer, I’m thrilled to bring a new grain to the flavor profile of Pure Project’s lagers and showcase what malt complexity can taste like in a light, refreshing beer. This lager is tasting exceptional. I’m looking forward to its reception and to what we can make in the future with this special regeneratively grown ingredient.”

Winslow Sawyer, Co-founder & Brewer, Pure Project Brewing
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