Originally published on nature.org
If you find yourself taking in the Finger Lakes’ stunning fall foliage while enjoying a beer this October, you can thank our beautiful forests for both. This season, The Nature Conservancy is joining the fun with OktoberForest, a collaboration with local breweries to raise awareness about the important role that forests play in our water supply.
Since opening a brewery – CB Craft Brewers in Honeoye Falls, New York in 1997 – Mike Alcorn has been committed to a vision of locally brewed beer that is enjoyed locally, and investing in his hometown of Honeoye Falls.
The Nature Conservancy is committed to Honeoye Falls, too, and recently launched a project to help improve water quality in the region. Working alongside local watershed groups, the Conservancy is restoring wetlands, planting trees and reconnecting streams to their floodplains so that nature can filter out sediment and nutrients before they reach Honeoye Lake, the Genesee River and Lake Ontario.
We asked Derek Armstrong, head brewer, to tell us more about nature’s role in their business’s success.
What is the source of water for your beer?
The beautiful, very well protected and maintained Hemlock Lake, located just 15 miles south of our brewery.
Do you see benefits to protecting and restoring forests on lands which surround the source waters for your beer?
Without a doubt! I just recently took a trip to the Hemlock Water Filtration Plant and learned Hemlock Lake was once a commercial lake and had residential cottages and hotels in the late 1800s. The City of Rochester realized how this would impact the water supply and began a process of protecting and reforesting the surrounding area of the lake.
Later, The Nature Conservancy helped the City of Rochester and State of New York ensure the permanent protection of this area. The forest and their root systems are the first line of defense against contaminants and pollutants. The surrounding forest serves the lake as the initial stage of filtration.
How is CB Craft Brewers working to be sustainable or environmentally friendly?
As with everyone, I am sure we could do more but we recycle all cardboard and plastic waste. We also have systems in place to reclaim some of the water that we use during certain brewing processes. There is also a good amount of organic waste and chemical waste in the process of brewing. For the organic waste, we sell these byproducts to local farmers to be fed to their cows. All other waste is treated on site in our waste water system before being sent back to the town.
How does nature inspire your brewery?
Most of our year-round products have a “character” theme, and our characters happen to be mostly animals. We have the Caged Alpha Monkey, Bonobo Session IPA, Makumba DIPA and The Night Owl Porter. We have also worked with educational groups to raise money and help promote protection for different animal species. We even have had owls from Wild Wings of Mendon visit our tasting room!
Good water and good beer depend on healthy forests. Learn more about how The Nature Conservancy is keeping water safe in the Finger Lakes and beyond.