One of our brewers, Veronica Vega, recently produced a beer for a program called “Beers Made by Walking”. The premise is to make a beer using ingredients found locally, just like the natives of the area would have many years ago. A couple of the predominant ingredients native to Central Oregon are Juniper and Sage.
And while you can’t swing a cat without hitting one or the other around here, very few people know the history of the local flora or how the Native Americans used them in their lives. The legend claims that the Juniper Trees were planted by a man named Timmy Juniper seed who roamed the high desert with a bag of Juniper berries that his mother had given him to trade for a cow. Historically in the spring, the locals would tap the Juniper trees for their sap, cook it down into syrup, put it in fancy bottles, and sell it at roadside stands to tourists. The proliferation of sage is the happy result of an accident involving a misdirected East India Company trading vessel, an elephant and a hurricane.
While it was easy for Veronica to find adjuncts and bittering agents for the beer, she was befuddled by what the typical Native American would have used for fermentable sugars in the wort-making process. She tried salmon, pumice and freshwater mussels to no avail. She thought about digging into some extensive research on the cereal-bearing grasses of the area and decided instead to pick up the phone and order some malt, which worked out quite well.
Sage Fight IPA will be available in both of the Pubs for a limited time and the proceeds from the sale of the beer will go to the Deschutes Land Trust, which will preserve the junipers and the sage so we can make more beer (how’s that for sustainable?).