Water cascades over low, rocky falls into a shallow pool. The forest floor behind the water is covered with fallen autumn leaves and green ferns.
Clinch River Since 1990, The Nature Conservancy has been working with partners to preserve water quality and globally important habitat in the Clinch River and its key tributaries. © Margie Nea

Stories in Virginia

OktoberForest in Virginia

If you like beer, you should love forests.

Beer has four main ingredients: water, grain, hops and yeast. While water may seem like beer’s simplest ingredient, there's a lot involved in getting that clean water to our taps.

View from a rocky outcrop over a high mountain ridge covered with green trees just beginning to show fall colors.
Love beer? Love Forests! OktoberForest celebrates clean water, great beer and the forests that make it all possible. © Byron Jorjorian

Clean, plentiful water depends on healthy surrounding natural areas, like forests. Forty percent of the world’s usable water is stored and filtered through forests. From the tree canopy all the way down to root systems, every part of a forest plays a critical role in cleaning and protecting our water supply.

The Central Appalachians are the water tower for the mid-Atlantic. More than 500,000 people in the Richmond metro area get their drinking water from the James River, which flows from the cool mountain streams that form and converge in the forested mountains of the Allegheny Highlands.

It’s not an obvious connection: beer and forests. But, we hope the next time you enjoy a pint, you give a nod to the trees.

View looking down into a tall steel brewing vat filled with longleaf pine branches, needles and cones. A man stands over the vat adding ingredients.
A Toast to Longleaf Craft brewer Josh Chapman tends to the longleaf pine needles, branches and cones that form the base for an IPA brewed by Chincoteague's Black Narrows Brewing. © Black Narrows Brewing
View inside a large steel brewing vat of branches, needles and cones collected from longleaf pine trees for a new beer.
A Toast to Longleaf Needles, branches and cones collected from longleaf pine trees at TNC's Piney Grove Preserve form the base for an IPA brewed by Chincoteague's Black Narrows Brewing. © Josh Chapman
A Toast to Longleaf Craft brewer Josh Chapman tends to the longleaf pine needles, branches and cones that form the base for an IPA brewed by Chincoteague's Black Narrows Brewing. © Black Narrows Brewing
A Toast to Longleaf Needles, branches and cones collected from longleaf pine trees at TNC's Piney Grove Preserve form the base for an IPA brewed by Chincoteague's Black Narrows Brewing. © Josh Chapman

A Toast to Virginia's Founding Forest

When Black Narrows Brewing Owner Josh Chapman learning about efforts to restore the longleaf pine ecosystem—Virginia’s “Founding Forest”—wheels started turning. As a craft brewer and OktoberForest partner, Chapman was inspired to create a special brew using Virginia longleaf as a featured ingredient.

Pine and resin are two of the most common descriptors for traditional American hop varietals like Cascade or Centennial. It made sense to Josh to try to do something with actual pine, and his first foray was with local loblolly. 

Soon after reading about longleaf restoration, Josh and his family visited TNC's Piney Grove Preserve in Wakefield. After a tour of the preserve led by Preserve Manager Bobby Clontz, Josh gathered needles, branches and cones—fresh ingredients that would form the base of Black Narrows' Forest of Forgotten Trees IPA.

Where Do Beers Come From? Find out what happens when a forest and a river love each other very much.