Sometimes when I sit down, queue up something on the TiVo, and open a beer, I feel like I am single handedly saving the World. And why shouldn’t I?

I work for a cancer hospital. I get paid to reduce the energy and water use of our facilities. I even donate to my university’s athletic program. In my spare time, I literally drink my carbon footprint to oblivion.

For decades brewers have reduced waste by sending their spent grain to be used as animal feed or fertilizer. Modern facilities are beginning to utilize energy efficient brewhouse designs to offset the enormous heating and water demands of a commercial brewery. Efficient boilers are being implemented to reduce the fuel required for steam generation, boiling, etc. Around 45% percent of the brewing process’ total energy is spent in the brew kettle during the boiling stage of brewing. Once this heat is produced, efficient breweries take steps through heat recovery devices to capture and reuse it in other processes or to convert the heat to usable energy that can power other devices.

Over 90% of beer is water. Furthermore, to make a unit of beer, it typically requires 4 or 5 units of water. Process water reduction, recycling water from process to process, and wastewater recovery are beginning to be implemented by commercial breweries to protect this natural, but finite resource.

Many breweries have also minimized their environmental impact by implementing sustainable business practices (e.g. purchase materials made of 100% recycled content) or by purchasing from suppliers utilizing sustainable farming practices (e.g. minimize fertilizer use, purchase local ingredients, no-till production).

Today we open a beer from Rogue Brewing’s Chatoe series. Rogue is considered by some to use gimmicky marketing ("Brewed using... free range coastal water" -- awesome), but Chatoe Rogue is the real deal. The brewery grows its own barley and hops for these beers. The beers are brewed onsite and include no chemicals, additives, or preservatives. Now if they could only get on the development of wormhole technology so mine doesn’t have to be delivered across the country using fossil fuels…

Day 3
May 18, 2011
Chatoe Rogue First Growth Creek Ale (Independence, OR)

photo courtesy of
Website/Bottle Information:
"We made this beer with our own hops and barley. Malty aroma, dark mahogany-brown in color with a rich, malty sweetness that finishes dry on top of a lush cherry flavor.

Brewed using 8 ingredients: Wheat, Rogue Barley Farm Dare and Risk Malts, Rogue Hopyard Revolution Hops, Montmorency Cherries, Pacman and Belgian Yeast and Free Range Coastal Water.

Dedicated to Farmers and Fermenters. GYO is a Rogue Ales term for Grow Your Own"

Serving: 22oz bottle
Style: Dubbel

25 IBU
ABV: 6.0%

He Said:
It is almost a lock that any dreamy, high concept beer is going to be a disappointment (just like my blog posts!). The bottle says they used cherries, but you wouldn't be able to tell from the nose. The beer has a slight malty sweet aroma, but almost nothing else. I either detect some mustiness or it is just that I'm imagining the aroma of the Oregon hippies that crafted this beer.

The flavor is a real sucker punch. Wow. Tart (Ha! Now I get it. Creek = Kriek. Those tricky Oregonians). The beer is so tart that it covers up some of the deeper malt flavors, Belgian yeast flavors, and any of the custom Rogue farmed hops that the label advertises. Surprisingly, the cherry tartness is not cloying, but overall it isn't amazing either.

Can I really like this beer and also be a little disappointed? That was a rhetorical question. I'm going to buy another one of these and taste it again next year. I also look forward to trying future Chatoe releases.

She Said:
The beer is red brown in color. It smells "woodsy rustic" (much like it looks, actually). The aroma does not hint at the flavor. The tartness hits your mouth with such a surprise it made me pucker and squint.
I'm reminded of the flavor of an unripened cherry. While the beer is tart to start, it is quickly goes away on the palate.

First Growth Creek Ale might age well. I'd really like to try one of these aged in oak. Think cigars and brandy.