Brewing for a cause

54-40 Brewing collaborates with stewards, Fish and Wildlife

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From left to right, Bolt Minister, Dave Pinkernell and Christopher Lapp stand near the Steigerwald National Wildlife Rufuge with cans of 54-40 Brewing Company's Restoration Ale.

Bolt Minister, owner of 54-40 Brewing Company in Washougal, wants his business to become ingrained in the community by fostering local partnerships in an effort to further the endeavors of everyone involved in a positive manner.

For Minister, there’s no better way to do that than brewing a new beer.

That’s exactly what he’s done to kick off his brewery’s partnership with the Gorge Refuge Stewards and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

54-40’s Restoration Ale will be released on Tuesday, April 16, at the brewery taproom, where it will be available for purchase in cans and on draft. Six-packs will also be available at local Total Wine, BevMo and New Seasons Market stores while supplies last.

Restoration Ale was created to raise funds and recognition for Fish and Wildlife’s Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge habitat restoration and flood control project, which aims to reconfigure the Port of Camas-Washougal’s existing Columbia River levee system to reduce flood risk, reconnect 912 acres of river floodplain and increase recreation activities at the refuge.

“Given the opportunity to work with a couple of real good solid partners and do something that is drawing attention to something for a completely new demographic is the exciting part,” Minister said. “We can help Fish and Wildlife get more bodies down there and help the stewards get more volunteers down there by doing a project like this.”

One dollar from every pint of Restoration Ale sold at the brewpub, which sits close to the refuge, will be donated to the stewards.

“Everything falls in nicely because we’re doing a little expansion on the end of (the brewery) building, which is going to have a giant beer patio that looks out at the refuge,” Minister said. “It’s going to be an ongoing partnership, which is really cool for us. It’s important to keep these green spaces and salmon healthy. Anything that we can do to shine a light on that is going to be a good thing. It becomes a conversation piece here at the pub because the bartenders get to say, ‘Oh yeah, right next door, if you don’t know….’ It’s pretty cool. We also have tastings set up where you can come taste the beer at each of these locations and learn a little bit about the stewards’ efforts.”

The partnership was originated by Fish and Wildlife’s Christopher Lapp, who approached Minister about the possibility of collaborating on a new beer.

“Our objective all along was to work with a local craft brewer to have that community engagement and to bring (our) story to the community level,” Lapp said. “Quite frankly, as one of the leading natural resource conservation agencies in the United States, a lot of people don’t know about us. It always has been a struggle for this agency to effectively tell our story. We haven’t been very good at it.”

In 2015, Fish and Wildlife partnered with Pacific City, Oregon’s Pelican Brewing Company on a commemorative beer release in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

“Knowing that 54-40 was right next to Steigerwald Lake (and) the refuge, and the upcoming reconnection project, it all just lined up in a great sequence,” said Lapp, who manages the Ridgefield refuge. “To know we had an active support group that was involved in it, it just made sense to try to replicate that effort in a much more engaging way than what we did with Pelican. We look at these opportunities as a springboard to be able to (connect). Beer is a great mechanism because it’s such a diverse way to connect to a lot of people. I think if we make those connections, which I’m confident we will, the main objective (is) to tap into a lot more diverse audience than we are currently.”

The stewards are also seeking to spread their message with this project. They are a group of volunteers who work to protect three national wildlife refuges on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge: Steigerwald Lake, Franz Lake (Stevenson) and Pierce (North Bonneville).

They also assist Fish and Wildlife with volunteer coordination, outreach and fundraising.

“We’re a friends group for Fish and Wildlife. Our role is habitat restoration and advocacy and public outreach,” said steward Dave Pinkernell. “We have a good connection with 54-40. The brewery has helped us get the word out.”

The stewards will hold their annual meeting at the brewery on Tuesday, April 16. Pinkernell expects it to be well attended.

“The meeting will start with the tapping of the Restoration Ale,” Pinkernell said. “Then we’ll give an update to the community about the restoration project. We’re about to break ground, and there’s some excitement. We’ll start to see changes out there. It’s going to be important to communicate that, and we’ll help get that communication out to the public.”

Restoration Ale is a pale ale, weighing in at 5 percent alcohol by volume. The beer is brewed with Amarillo, Rauku and Cascade hops, and is created with an outdoors-focused drinker in mind.

“You get a lot of citrus, and you’re going to get some peach stone fruit. It drinks really light. It’s a nice citrus-forward pale ale,” Minister said. “The six-pack is wonderful because you can throw a handful in your pack for the day. You (can go) on a hike and pop the top on a few of them (at the summit). You’re not going to lose your wits at 5 percent, but it still has an easy-drinking feel to it. It’s a good beer for spring in the Northwest.”