By Mary Anderson
Water: it makes up to 60 percent of your body, about 71 percent of the Earth and 90 to 95 percent of your beer. As the main ingredient in the brewing process, local breweries are starting to pay more attention to where their water comes from and how to make sure it keeps coming.
“For all ingredients in beer, quality matters. Bristol Brewing builds a specific water profile based on the recipe we're brewing. To do that well, you want water that starts clean and doesn't need filtering,” Colorado Spring’s Bristol Brewing Company’s Communication and Development plus Sustainability Coordinator, Steve Oliveri said.
But with Colorado’s dry climate, water is not as plentiful as many may wish. Colorado Springs, the state’s second largest city, is situated nowhere near a major water source and more than half of the city’s water goes to landscaping. This causes several issues; but, it’s a lack of awareness and education about water resource management that the Fountain Creek Watershed Districtstruggles with the most.
Although the education efforts for the watershed are not new, they, along with City of Colorado Springs' Water Resource Engineering division and Colorado Springs Utilities have recently partnered with Bristol Brewing Company and other local breweries to broaden their reach to a new audience.
“Breweries are gathering places for residents and visitors alike, and we hope to develop a new cadre of Watershed Warriors through the Alliance,” said Allison Plute, Fountain Creek Watershed Project Manager at Colorado Springs Utilities.
The birth of the alliance began at the 2016 Craft Brewers Conference where Oliveri was inspired by New Belgium’s Brewater. With a desire to get involved in his local watershed, he adopted a portion of Cheyenne Creek. There, he met Plute and Jerry Cordova from the Colorado Springs Water Resource Engineering Department. Over celebratory beers after a creek cleanup, the three came up with the idea to join forces to create what is now the Fountain Creek Brewshed® Alliance.
The alliance joins several others just like it in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
“It was a natural progression for Colorado to join these Western states and this program, and we can utilize the assets that have already been developed,” Plute said.
Each brewery, by joining the alliance, commits to hosting at least one fundraiser a year to support the Creek Week cleanup program or becomes a business partner of the City of Colorado Springs’ Adopt-a-Waterway program, among other responsibilities like attending meetings and keeping educational materials on display in the taproom.
“The more we can develop an educated, aware and engaged citizenry, the more sustainable our lands and water will be for future generations,” Plute said.
As the Fountain Creek Brewshed® Alliance continues to engage the community in the discussion of water protection, Colorado Springs residents can get involved in a number of ways:
• Attend the film showing of After the Food on September 18 at Bristol Brewing Company
• Join the Clean-n-Crawl sponsored by Leinenkugel on September 24. Participants pay $20 for a beer at four different bars while cleaning the storm drains, curbs and gutters in a one-mile radius along the way. Sign up here.
• Contribute to fundraisers at Great Storm Brewery September 11 and Fossil Brewing Company September 20.
• Participate in Creek Week: the State of Colorado’s largest cleanup event, according to Plute. Starting September 30,there will be nine days of over 40 cleanups happening from Palmer Lake to Pueblo
“Brewing beer is a water-intensive process, and we have a responsibility to figure out how we can do that the most effectively, so we can continue brewing beer that brings people together, creating kinship and community,” Oliveri said.
Note: Both Creek Week and the Fountain Creek Brewshed® Alliance are programs of the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District.
Alliance Member Breweries: Bristol Brewing Co., Pikes Peak Brewing Co., Triple S Brewing Co., Fieldhouse Brewing Co., Peaks N Pines Brewery, Fossil Craft Beer Co., Great Storm Brewing and Smiling Toad Brewery
Utilities and City Organizations: Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District, Citizen’s Advisory Group and Creek Week Committee, Colorado Springs Utilities (Watershed Planning, Laboratory Services and Public Affairs), City of Colorado Springs Water Resource Engineering Division, Greenway Fund Events and Communications Committee, Colorado College State of the Rockies project and Planet of Awe (nonprofit fiscal sponsor)