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Brewing Up an Ethical Brewery

persephone goddessIt will come as no surprise to regular readers of this website that I bring a bit of social conscience to my passion for good beer. I believe beer is a product that can be made with an eye to the environment and to good social and ethical values.

So you can appreciate my interest is piqued when I find a brewery that is acting upon those kind of values. I get REALLY interested when that brewery also happens to make good tasting beer.

I found one this summer: Persephone Brewing from Gibsons B.C. on the Sunshine Coast. I have made it the subject of my most recent Vue Weekly column (read here) as well as my CBC column this Friday (4:40pm on 740AM in Edmonton, or online).

I am enamoured by Persephone for a few reasons. First, they are founded as a “social enterprise”, meaning social and environmental stewardship are integrated into the business model. Second, they are committed to sourcing all their ingredients from B.C. Second, they have a demonstration hop farm on the brewery site (actually part of an 11-acre farm that is integrated into the brewery operations). The hop farm has a dual purpose. In the future it will supply the brewery with hops (the plants are too young at this moment), but its main function is to serve as an example of small-scale, local, sustainable hop farming in B.C. It is designed to foster other hop farmers in the province to resurrect B.C.’s dormant hop farming industry.

The good news doesn’t stop there. The brewery is partly owned by the Sunshine Coast Association for Community Living, a non-profit devoted to the well-being of people with developmental disabilities. Association clients work on the farm and in the brewery. Persephone also prioritizes the hiring of other groups who are in most need of gainful employment, such as aboriginal youth.

On top of all that, they seem to make some pretty enticing beer. I have had their Rum Runner Red, which is an attractive West Coast red ale, with a nice balance of smooth malts and spicy hops. But it is their Goddess Golden Ale, a British-style blonde ale, that has ensnared me. I first tried it on a camping trip this summer and it has been on my brain ever since.

It is medium gold with a light haze and a big rocky white head that drops into a loose collection of bubbles. The aroma gives off soft grain, some honey and a touch of light fruitiness. The beer begins soft and fruity with berry and peach alongside some light grainy malt. The middle sharpens up a little bit, adding  some pilsner character and grain-stalk sharpness. The finish brings out a delicate grassy and earthy hop. It’s not too bitter, just enough to give an edge to the beer and make it seem less sweet. The linger is grainy and grassy with a light fruity ester in the back.

I like this beer. Period. And knowing what kind of operation is behind it, I like it even more. It is kind of a win-win for me. I get to drink good beer and feel good about it. What’s not to like?

1 comment to Brewing Up an Ethical Brewery

  • Nannick

    Hey everyone! I am conducting research on the business impact of ethical branding and advertising. I’d love to hear your opinion about the ethical behaviour of several beer brands. This will help me to show companies whether or not it is important for them to communicate in an ethical way.
    This is the link to the survey:
    I really appreciate your input!
    Have a great day!

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