To toast its 40th anniversary, Patagonia is teaming up with craft brewer New Belgium Brewing to create a limited-edition lager. Appropriately dubbed California Route, the brew was made in the “California Common” tradition – tawny in color, medium bodied, with a malty character and earthy hops – paying homage to the outdoor apparel brand’s Ventura, Calif. roots. The beer is also brewed with certified organic ingredients – staying true to Patagonia’s longstanding commitment to organic cotton.
A sustainable apparel brand and a craft brewery may seem like strange bedfellows, but the two labels have more in common than you might think. The nation’s first brewery to incorporate wind power for electricity, New Belgium was also the first brewery to join 1% For The Planet, an organization co-founded by Patagonia that connects businesses, consumers and nonprofits through environmental philanthropy. It also participated in the Natural Resources Defense Council’s push to defend the Clean Water Act earlier this year and has reduced its waste-to-landfill to a mere 5.6 percent.
“When my sister, Claire, had the idea of brewing a 40th anniversary beer, the folks at New Belgium immediately came to mind,” Patagonia’s Fletcher Chouinard said in a statement. “Not only are they forward-thinking in their business and brewing practices, but their beers have been a go-to for our crew and customers around the country for a long time.”
The new brew comes in blue cans resembling Patagonia’s logo. You may remember the “can vs. bottle” debate that sprung up after several craft brewers switched over to aluminum, but New Belgium asserts that cans offer numerous benefits for beer packaging, including high recycling rates and recycled content. Canned beer is also decidedly easier to stash in a climbing bag, making it a good match for the Patagonia lager.
The beer is brewed and canned by New Belgium, but Patagonia played “a key role throughout the development,” according to a statement from the brewery. It’s tough to gauge Patagonia’s brewing prowess, but New Belgium is a vetted favorite among the craft beer community – which bodes well for California Route. New Belgium brews have more than 38,000 reviews on Beer Advocate, with a 91 percent favorability rating overall. Its best-known beer, Fat Tire, has 5,000 ratings.
California Route will be sold for a limited time at select retailers in Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Boulder, Denver, Boston, New York, Santa Monica, San Francisco, Palo Alto, Cardiff and Ventura, according to Patagonia. The company will also pour the beer on Black Friday, Nov. 29, at select stores.
Enjoy the beer while it lasts, but don’t expect Patagonia to trade their hoodies for hops to pursue brewing full-time. Company spokeswoman Jess Clayton assured Bloomberg Businessweek, “Patagonia is not getting into the beer-business in a permanent way.”
Image credit: California Route Organic Lager can courtesy of Patagonia
Based in Philadelphia, Mary Mazzoni is a freelance journalist who frequently writes about sustainability, corporate social responsibility and clean tech. Mary also contributes to Earth911; her work has appeared on the Huffington Post, Sustainable Brands and The Daily Meal. You can follow her on Twitter @mary_mazzoni.