Beer and the outdoors.
Two of Chattanooga residents' favorite things are partnering to raise funds for conservation in the region. Four local brewers have launched specialty beers in the last year to raise funds for a partnering outdoors group. The beers are specifically created with the local partner in mind and use a portion of earnings to support conservation. The newest product will launch this weekend at Five Wits Brewing Company.
The beer, the Lula Lake Lager, will officially be on tap at the brewery beginning Sunday (although there is a soft release taking place now). A dollar of each pint sold will be donated to Lula Lake Land Trust to support its conservation efforts.
"It was a joint partnership, and they had the ability to do something that Lula Lake had never done before," land trust spokesman Matthew Hubbard said. "We thought it would be a great chance to spread awareness about what we do here."
The land trust was established in 1994 by the will of Robert M. Davenport. Davenport had dedicated the latter years of his life purchasing property in the Rock Creek watershed on Lookout Mountain to clean and protect the scenic area. Upon his death, the family donated the 1,200 acres surrounding Lula Lake, and the land trust was established. It has since increased protection within the watershed to more than 8,000 acres.
Its smaller core preserve is a popular place for hiking on its monthly open gate days. It also hosts school groups and other activities during the week.
The partnership with Five Wits began at the sold-out "Hike, Bike and Brew: Lula Lake Beer Fest" earlier this year. Owners of the brewing company, which opened this fall on West Main Street, attended the event and told the land trust about their business ideas and wish to partner with the conservation group.
The two sides began discussions and worked to create a beer that fit the occasion.
"We wanted a beer, being an outdoors city, we wanted to tie in the outdoor experience to the beer," Five Wits brewer Bryan Harris said. "IPAs are pretty popular, and since the weather is changing, we wanted to make it crisper."
The team settled on an India pale lager — a hybrid between an India pale ale and a lager — and added hops and flavoring to reach what Harris describes as a soft, elegant floral beer. The land trust employees even got to help create the brew.
Here's a look at some of the beers in town dedicated to conservation:
The Beer: Lula Lake Lager
The Conservation Group: Lula Lake Land Trust
The Brewery: Five Wits Brewing Company
Release Date: Sunday, Nov. 10
Price: $6 per pint; $1 of every pint sold at Sunday's event will go to Lula Lake
Description: Harris describes this IPL as a soft, elegant, floral beer. It uses a pilsner and malt base with lemon drops and lorrel hops to give it its flavor. The azacca hops added at the end give the beer a tiny bit of spiciness, Harris said.
The Beer: River series IPA
The Conservation Group: Tennessee River Gorge Trust, Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute
The Brewery: Naked River Brewing
Release Date: Initial release November 2018; new beer coming in January
Price: Varies; Four percent of in-house sales and 2% of distribution sales are donated to conservation partner
Description: Naked River Brewing highlights a different organization per section of the Tennessee River with each release.
So far, they've released a beer for the Tennessee River Gorge Trust (the Gorge IPA) and the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute (the Sturgeon General). The company will launch its third beer in the river series toward the first of the year, according to Naked River President Jake Raulston.
"Each of the IPAs will be distinctly different and reflect in flavor what organization we aim the beer towards," Raulston wrote in an email. "The river gorge is a beautiful bright and vibrant section of the river and our IPA notes this with crisp and fruitful hop flavors that we hope brighten your day. Sturgeon are rigid monsters of our river systems, so our beer was designed with a more earthy than fruity tone to bring the consumer closer to nature."
The Beer: Winter Warmer
The Conservation Group: WildTrails
The Brewery: Oddstory
Release Date: Thursday, Dec. 12
Price: Varies; 5% of the proceeds go to WildTrails
Description: Oddstory has worked with WildTrails on several specialty beers over a number of years. The latest version is scheduled for a Dec. 12 release.
The Winter Warmer will be a darker ale, similar to a stout or porter, according to brewery manager Christian Beairsto. At 9%, the high gravity beer is a "big hitter," he said. The dark ale is brewed with cinnamon, vanilla and toasted oak. The brewery will also release a beer in the spring to benefit WildTrails.
The nonprofit was founded to promote a healthy lifestyle through trail running and other forms of outdoor recreation. It is also dedicated to protecting and preserving natural spaces for such activities.
The Beer: Valhalla Cave Imperial Oatmeal Stout
The Conservation Group: Southeastern Cave Conservancy, inc.
The Brewery: Chattanooga Brewing Company
Release Date: December 2018-March 2019; new beer coming January 2020
Price: $7 per pint; $22 per bomber; $1 per pint and a portion of the bomber sales go to the nonprofit
Description: The Valhalla Cave Imperial Oatmeal Stout was released last year to support one of the country's largest cave conservancies. The partnership came together when Chattanooga Brewing Company owner Tim Kelly attended the conservancy's "Bats, Beers and Bluegrass" event at Fricks Cave in Walker County, Georgia.
Kelly was interested in releasing a beer to raise funds for the organization, so representatives with the conservancy and the brewery met for lunch and pitched ideas. They ultimately landed on the oatmeal stout named after Valhalla Cave in Jackson County, Alabama. The cave has a 227-foot entrance pitch with more than a mile of cave at the bottom. It is one of the best pit caves in the Southeast, according to the conservancy.
The batch raised more than $500 for the Southeastern Cave Conservancy Inc.
"It doesn't seem like a lot, but it is," conservancy board member and Chattanooga Brewing Company marketing manager Amber Lehmann said.
The beer is no longer available, but the two groups are working on a new beer that will be named after an area cave and is expected to be released in January.