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Stories in Kentucky

Against the Grain Celebrates OktoberForest

Against the Grain
Against the Grain

This October, The Nature Conservancy is celebrating OktoberForest, highlighting the connection between healthy forests, clean water and great beer. We're partnering with more than 150 breweries around the U.S. that understand the critical role that forests play in providing clean water—not only for their product, beer, but also for life itself.

To explore that connection here in Kentucky, we sat down with Jessy Harding, merchandise and special events manager for Against the Grain Brewery in Louisville.

nature.org:

Thanks Jessy and Against the Grain Brewery for participating in OktoberForest! You're helping to make the connection between healthy forests, clean water and your product, beer. Can you tell us a little bit about Against the Grain?

Jessy Harding:

We were established in 2011, and we were the first brewer-owned and operated brewery in Louisville. We’re owned by four guys, Sam Cruz, Andrew Ott, Adam Watson and Jerry Gnagy. The four guys wanted to change the way beer was viewed in Louisville. We started brewing beer under a certain style, with six categories: session, hop, whim, malt, dark and smoke. All of the beers we produce fall under at least one and sometimes multiple categories.

nature.org:

Tell me about the artwork on your labels.

Jessy Harding:

A local artist named Robbie Davis does all of our brand art. Our artwork depicts those categories with our animated characters. For instance, our hoppy beers will have the hop character on the package. We also have in-house art that features the characters.

nature.org:

What’s special about Louisville? Why do you choose to do your brewing here?

Jessy Harding:

All of the guys are from Louisville. They all four worked together at a different local brewery first, and then came together to start their own place.

nature.org:

Tell me what has made your brewery so successful. What role has water played in that?

Jessy Harding:

When we opened, there really wasn’t a lot going on in the brewery scene in Louisville. A few local breweries were doing pretty basic what we call gray-scale brewing—an ale, a brown ale, and a porter. Our brewery really wanted to change that, the whole ‘keep Louisville weird’ aspect, and our great water being our main ingredient, embraced how Louisville is different. Beer is a culture, and we wanted to put Louisville on the map and show that we can brew beer here, that it’s not just about bourbon.

nature.org:

Do your operations include any sustainable practices?

Jessy Harding:

Yes. Our sustainable practices are multifaceted. We give all of our grain to local farmers, and they feed livestock with it. We have a set-up with LG&E in which we pay extra to source our energy from sustainable sources such as windmills and solar. We also recycle some of our packaging, our case boxes and our pack techs—the solid plastic toppers that go on the four-packs.

nature.org:

On a personal note, why do you support forests?

Jessy Harding:

I camp all the time and hike. I just bought a canoe. I love it. If I could live in the outdoors, I would.

OktoberForest If you love beer, you gotta love forests.