The Nature Conservancy is celebrating fall with OktoberForest, a collaboration with local brewers to raise awareness about the importance of forests in providing clean water. We sat down with Heavy Seas Beer owner Hugh Sisson to discuss the important role that clean water plays in brewing beer.
“If you don’t have clean water, you can’t make good beer,” Sisson says. Clean water is not only required for the brewing, but clean water is also essential to the growing of hops, a crucial beer ingredient.
As an agricultural product, hops take a lot of water. “Essentially, the best places to grow hops are the same as the best places to grow wine grapes - a very dry climate, controlling the moisture with irrigation, as opposed to high humidity and tons of rain fall. Hops are heavily dependent on water that has been reclaimed and in as pristine a state as possible.” Heavy Seas receives its water, “from good old fashioned Baltimore City municipal water,” Sisson says. "The city has been blessed with a tremendous water resource.”
Sisson understands the importance of conserving nature and our limited resources. “We all need to realize that we are stewards of the future. I think it’s important that people just realize that they are stewards of these wonderful gifts to be maintained for the next generation. I’m in the camp that we can’t shirk that responsibility.”
Heavy Seas currently contributes to The Clean Water Fund, an organization whose mission is to protect the environment, health, economic well-being, and community quality of life through strong grassroots groups and campaigns to elect environmental candidates/solve environmental and community problems. For every case of beer sold, Heavy Seas donates to the Clean Water Fund within the region in which the beer was purchased.
When asked about his own connection to nature, Sisson recalled his childhood. “I grew up sailing on the Chesapeake Bay and I did a lot of racing on the Chesapeake Bay so I’m a big Chesapeake Bay buff.”
The Nature Conservancy’s Chesapeake Bay Program includes six state chapters that coordinate efforts with several partners across the entire Bay watershed to improve water quality and habitat, supporting hundreds of communities that depend on the Bay as an economic driver. The Central Appalachian Mountains are the water tower that feed the Bay’s tributaries, and protecting the Appalachian forests is critical to the Bay’s health.
Visit nature.org/OktoberForest to learn more about the connection between healthy forests and clean water, and see the list of participating OktoberForest breweries across the country!