Transforming Agriculture, Perennially

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Cheers to This: Beer That’s Good for the Climate

Publication: Civil Eats

Author: Cat Wolinski

A new beer from Patagonia Provisions and Hopworks Urban Brewery is made with Kernza, a perennial grain designed to save water, protect soil, and absorb carbon.

Long Root Ale, a pale ale hitting the market today from Patagonia Provisions and Hopworks Urban Brewery, is sustainably brewed and made with organic ingredients, but that’s not what sets it apart. The big difference here is in the grains—and the farming practices behind them.

While most beer is brewed with malted barley or wheat that is grown in an annual rotation—meaning the grains are planted every spring, harvested in the fall, to be repeated the following year—Long Root Ale is the first beer to incorporate Kernza, a perennial grain. Once planted, this “superwheat“ derived from an ancient form of intermediate wheatgrass can remain in the ground for years at a time.

Kernza is the product of many years of research and development by the Land Institute, a Kansas-based nonprofit founded by Wes Jackson and devoted to the advancement of perennial grains and regenerative agricultural practices. Due to its unusually long roots, the grain uses less than half the amount of water than annual wheat crops do, and these roots help pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and lock it in the soil. In addition, Kernza thrives without chemical fertilizers or pesticides, which can be harmful to soil and exacerbate erosion. …

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