Beer Fest

Salmon-Safe IPA Festival Returns to Hopworks Brewery

Drink beer and protect watersheds and wildlife? Don't mind if we do.

By Sam Stites April 10, 2023


The original Salmon-Safe IPA Fest in 2018.

Beers from 18 different breweries across the US will be in the spotlight during Hopworks Brewing’s Salmon-Safe IPA Festival on April 22. It's no coincidence: that's Earth Day.

All the beers featured at the festival will have the seal of approval from Salmon-Safe, a Portland nonprofit that certifies farms and vineyards changing the ways they grow and harvest to pristine fish rearing habitats. In this case, brewers will have used salmon-safe hops, barley, and wheat, all farmed using practices conscious of what’s running off into local streams and rivers.

Salmon-Safe executive director Dan Kent says sourcing from farms that use these practices are helping lead the industry toward climate-resilient agriculture that's protective of salmon watersheds—of which we have many in the Pacific Northwest.

“We started by engaging with hop growers in the Willamette Valley and Yakima, and then barley and grain growers from across the interior Columbia Basin,” Kent says. “Then we started to connect with craft breweries seeking out salmon-safe certified hops and malts, and that really led us to the IPA festival.”

According to Kent, there are more than 500 farms and vineyards across the west now producing agricultural products that are certified as Salmon-Safe. That process includes an organic inspection by third-party assessors that a farm adheres to peer-reviewed standards set by Salmon-Safe. Kent says a certification lasts three years, but check-ins are made annually.

“It’s really about building a market for certified hops and malts and bringing recognition back to the farmers who are making an investment in conservation,” Kent says.

Christian Ettinger, Hopworks founder and brewmaster, says his brewery is excited to host the festival for the second time. The first iteration was held in 2018, and the pandemic derailed plans for an event in 2020. This year’s event will feature beers from Georgetown Brewing, pFriem Family Brewers, Steeplejack Brewing, New Belgium Brewing, Sunriver Brewing, and more. The Oregon Brew Crew—an alliance of home brewers—will also have two beers on tap. Proceeds from the event will benefit Oregon Wild, a nonprofit group that advocates for protection of wilderness, rivers, and wildlife. 

Expect live bands and food as well as panel discussions from Salmon-Safe growers, like representatives from Roy Farms, a 100-year-plus-old sustainable hop farm outside Yakima, Washington. 

“As a B Corporation brewery, the onus is on us to lead by example and look at every aspect of our business as an opportunity to do better,” Ettinger says.

He says New Belgium out of Fort Collins, Colorado, and Topa Topa Brewing from Ventura, California, are two breweries he’s particularly looking forward to joining the party. HUB has collaborated with New Belgium on a few projects, and the Colorado brewery is consistently a leader in terms of sustainably sourced ingredients, Ettinger adds.

“We’ve got a great family of brewers who are all sustainably minded,” he says. “The ecosystem of brewers is strong without the sustainability narrative, but when you add that aspect of being responsible, it’s a really great foundation for friendship.” 

Earth Day is also special for Hopworks in that the brewery is celebrating its 15th anniversary. Those unable to attend the festival can celebrate by picking up its latest beer, the Carbon Farmer Hazy IPA, a collaboration with New Seasons Market  brewed with Kernza grains that actually sequesters carbon from earth's troposphere. 

Event Details

Hopworks Brewery, 2449 SE Powell Blvd 
Session 1: Noon–4 p.m. (all ages)
Session 2: 5–9 p.m. (21+)
Free panel discussion featuring Salmon-Safe growers and brewers 4–5 p.m.
Tickets are available online for $33.94 and include admission to one session, a 16-ounce tasting glass, and 10 four-ounce pour drink tickets.

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