Our newest seasonal beer is set to be released on December 12th! This beer has been especially fun for us, because it’s a benefit beer for the effort to bring Sea Otters back to the Oregon Coast! Here at 7 Devils, we love to give back to our community, and we'll take just about any excuse to do that while drinking a delicious beer. Read on to learn more about sea otters in Oregon and the Elakha Alliance beer challenge.
Many of you may know that Oregon has a dark history when it comes to sea otters. During the fur trade of the 18th and 19th centuries, the sea otter population here on the Oregon Coast was hunted to extinction. If you've ever seen one up close, or had the privilege of feeling their fur, you know why. They have the densest fur of any mammal on the planet, consisting of over 1 million hairs per square inch on some parts of their body! Unfortunately, since then sea otters have not returned to Oregon, which has had a negative effect on the resiliency of our coastal ecosystems.
Sea otters are considered a "keystone species", which means that they have a large impact on their natural ecosystem and without their presence, the ecosystem changes drastically. More specifically, sea otters have to eat constantly to maintain their body temperature and prevent hypothermia, and one of their main prey items is the purple sea urchin. Without sea otters, the purple sea urchin population has exploded, resulting in the destruction of kelp forests (sea urchins eat kelp!) Kelp forests are essential for the health of our coast, as they provide sanctuary for a variety of animals, including fish and crabs, which are both culturally and economically important for humans. Kelp forests have many other benefits to our coastal ecosystems, which you can read more about here. Restoring Oregon's sea otter population could have immense effects on the resiliency of our coastal ecosystems, and would rebuild a lost cultural connection for the indigenous coastal community.
The Elakha Alliance, an organization formed by tribal, nonprofit and conservation leaders, is dedicated to re-establishing a sea otter population on the Oregon Coast within the next 50 years. 7 Devils and many other breweries in Oregon have teamed together to promote awareness about this organization and their inspirational goal by crafting beers to celebrate the sea otter. The challenge was to brew a beer that "reflects the deep, luxurious fur and sleek, supple movements of sea otters, their fierce intelligence and cleverness, their need for social connections and playfulness", using Maris Otter grain for at least 70% of the grain bill. To make this beer even more fun, the Elakha Alliance is hosting a judging event in January to award the beers with the most otter fur-like color, the most clever name, the most creative logo/artwork design, the most eccentric recipe, and the Elakha fan favorite. Stay tuned to see how we do in the competition! If you'd like to learn more about the Elakha Alliance and perhaps make a donation to their cause, visit their website here!
Our entry into the competition has been so much fun for our brewers to design. It is an amber-colored kolsch that we believe to be the perfect beer to sip on during those cold, rainy winter days. We decided to make the coastal connection a tiny bit stronger by incorporating dulse, a red algae that grows here on the coast. You may be thinking, "Seaweed in beer?! Why would you ever do that?!"... well, we're not the first to do it! People have been putting seaweed in beer for ages. It is known to add earthy, nutty and salty flavors, as well as creating a richer mouthfeel that makes the beer that much more indulgent. It is commonly used as a clarifying agent in the brewing process, resulting in a clearer, more beautiful product. The dulse that we are using was grown by Oregon Dulse in Bandon. Read more about their operation here.
Finally, we want to give a shout out to Coos Bay local, Arusha Dittmer, for designing the artwork for our Elakha Ale. Arusha is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation and it goes without saying that this cause is close to her heart. Thanks Arusha for your beautiful contribution to this project! We appreciate you!
Comment below and let us know what you think of the Elakha Ale!
The 7 Devils Brew Crew