Shea Coffey of Parkway Brewing Co., Salem, VA

Celebrating the connection between healthy forests, clean water, and good beer!

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 spoke with tasting room manager Shea Coffey from Parkway Brewing Co., about nature’s role in the making and enjoyment of craft beer.

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!


How has nature inspired you as a brewery?

Shea Coffey:

Nature has inspired us since the very beginning. We take our name from the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is known for its scenic beauty. We also name some of our beers after places known for their natural beauty. Places like Bent Mountain and Raven's Roost. Also, all our tap handles at the brewery, our tap signs, and our beer flight holders are all made out of locally foraged American Chestnut, which has been all but extinct in this area since around 1906. The man who makes all of our tap handles uses old reclaimed fence posts and barn siding.


What important connections do you see between healthy forests, clean water, and good beer?

Shea Coffey:

The connection between healthy forests, clean water, and good beer should be immediately noticeable. Beer is mostly water, and you can't have good beer without good, clean water. The forests on the nearby mountains and neighboring locals help to act as a filter for the water before it makes its way to us.

The Bent Mountain watershed, which drains into the Roanoke River, from where we get our water, is some of the cleanest water in the area.  We believe that has to do with the beautiful forests through which the water flows.


How is Parkway working to be sustainable and environmentally friendly?

Shea Coffey:

We are trying to do as much as we can to be not only environmentally friendly, but sustainable, as well. 100% of the power we use comes from wind through Arcadia Power. In the past, we have also been a designated monarch butterfly sanctuary, planting many of the plants they use to feed and to breed.

We also run a program called Pilot Batch for Charity, where 100% of the proceeds from a certain beer go to a charity of our choosing. A lot of these charities happen to be local, environmental charities. We believe in a symbiotic relationship between our brewery, our community, and nature. Whatever we can do to help them, we know that they will try to do to help us.

We live in one of the most beautiful places on the planet, and we want to conserve it so our children and our children's children can enjoy it in the same way we have.


Stay Updated

Learn about the places you love and find out how you can help by signing up for Nature eNews.

I'm already on the list Read our privacy policy

Thank you for joining our online community!

We'll be in touch soon with more Nature Conservancy news, updates, and exciting stories.