Clean Water = Great Beer
What does the Morro Bay National Estuary Program (MBNEP) and the Libertine Brewing Co. have in common? Quite a lot, actually. Both are located on the beautiful Embarcadero overlooking the Morro Bay Marina, both heavily rely on science for their day-to-day operations, and both share a deep love for clean water—because, of course, you have to have clean water to make great beer. It was only a matter of time before these two institutions joined forces for a libation creation.
“It was exciting to collaborate with a local organization that cares so much about the Bay and is actively working to protect it. All of us who work here at Libertine are surfers, hikers, campers, explorers—so we love to help them out with their mission,” smiles Sean Zurbriggen, General Manager of their flagship Morro Bay pub and of the newly opened brewery and restaurant in downtown San Luis Obispo.
Every three years, the MBNEP shares their research about the health of the Bay through a public science-based report and a series of events and talks. “The report provides answers to questions like Is Morro Bay safe for swimming? and Is water in the creeks and Bay clean enough for fish and aquatic life? Our State of the Bay event series invites people to experience the answers to these questions in person by participating in walks, hikes, talks, and hands-on science explorations throughout the month of April and into May,” says Lexie Bell, Executive Director at MBNEP. This year they teamed up with the local lads at Libertine Brewing Co. to release a custom estuary-themed beer for the occasion: the Morro Bay Gose.
Gose, pronounced go-zuh, is a top-fermented sour wheat beer originating from Goslar (Germany) that typically yields a flavor profile of strong saltiness and lemon sourness due to using local water sources (or by adding salt) during the brewing process. Taking a unique twist on the traditional Gose, Libertine Brewing Co. started with their barrel-aged Gose in their blending tanks and incorporated a few locally sourced ingredients to capture the true terroir of this wild ale: saltwater and seaweed from the Bay, citrus zest with oranges from Glass Farm in Morro Bay and lemons from Dos Pasos Ranch in Cambria, and avocado honey from Stepladder Ranch & Creamery in Cambria. “We love the idea of this beer because it celebrates some of the bounty of the watershed and the Central Coast as a whole, while showing that good beer and food require clean water. Libertine is doing all of this out of the goodness of their hearts, and some of the proceeds from the beer will be donated to the MBNEP to help us continue to protect and restore the Bay,” states Rachel Pass, Communications & Outreach Coordinator at MBNEP.
On Saturday April 1, the Morro Bay Gose was tapped for the first time at the Morro Bay Libertine Pub to kick off the MBNEP’s State of the Bay event series. Participants purchased $10 pints which included one pour of Gose in a souvenir Libertine pint glass and MBNEP bamboo coaster, plus the option to refill their empty glassware with any beer on tap for just $5. While sipping on beers, folks soaked in a presentation by MBNEP Assistant Director Ann Kitajima as she highlighted the results from the Estuary Program’s water quality monitoring and improvement efforts. “Morro Bay is central to all of our lives, providing us with recreational opportunities, fresh local seafood, beautiful views, and local livelihoods. At the heart of all of these benefits is clean water. Protecting our Bay preserves it for future generations to enjoy, and also ensures that the economy that relies on clean water can thrive,” explained Ann.
A few weeks later, the Morro Bay Gose was tapped by Luis Wine Bar, host of the Science After Dark event held on April 18. The limited 5-barrel run—which equates to about 175 gallons—is now being poured at the Libertine location in downtown San Luis Obispo. “The flavor profile is like a nice refreshing, crisp lemon. Not too sour, not real bitter, with hints of orange, and a little sweetness from the avocado honey,” says Sean. Enjoy this special brew (just one of the 72 drafts on tap!) alongside other locally-inspired menu offerings like Cattaneo Brothers elk sausage marinated with their Wild IPA, Stepladder Creamery's Rioly Run cheese washed in their Saison, or Gose battered fish and chips.
Libertine Brewing Co. will donate an additional $1 to the MBNEP for every pint of Morro Bay Gose sold at the Morro Bay location until the barrels run dry. So, let’s raise our glasses of Gose and toast to the Bay—may it continue to produce clean water for wildlife habitats, for sustainable seafood, for safe swimming, and, of course, for great beer. Cheers! To learn more, visit mbnep.org and libertinebrewing.com.
Originally published in Edible San Luis Obispo & Wine Country
Summer 2017 · Issue 18