Introducing Deschutes River Recordings

By Andy Sparhawk

Access to malt and hops are crucial in making great craft beer, but brewing is not possible without a plentiful source of water. Craft brewers recognize this, and many focus much of their charitable efforts on protecting not just the source of this precious brewing ingredient, but the wildlife and habitat surrounding it.

Like Deschutes Brewery, who has recently come up with a creative approach for helping protect their namesake waterway: Deschutes River Recordings, which combines two of their passions, the Deschutes River and indie artists.

“When it comes to our beers, we are always experimenting with new ingredients and styles,” explains Jason Randles, Deschutes Brewery’s digital marketing manager. “This creative spirit was woven into our Deschutes River Recordings project, with unique outdoor music performances right in our backyard. Plus, the project supports one of our favorite causes—enhancing the health of our namesake waterway, the Deschutes River.”

The brewery formed an “advisory board members” composed of its fans to help choose songs with river themes. Next, the brewery teamed up with indie artists to record the selected songs. The musicians traveled to Oregon and recorded the music “streamside high-wire: live, unadorned, far from a studio safety net,” resulting in a completely unique sound blending acoustic tunes with the sounds of nature.

Fans can download the recordings for free, but are asked to make a donation to the Deschutes River Conservancy, which is working to preserve streamflows and health of the river in Central Oregon.

The first recording is by Eric D. Johnson of the Fruit Bats performing The Byrds’ “Ballad of Easy Rider.” Next up will be recordings by Laura Gibson and Eric Earley of Blitzen Trapper.

Find out more about the recordings, download and donate!

Andy SparhawkAndy Sparhawk, the Brewers Association’s Craft Beer Program Coordinator, is a Certified Cicerone® and BJCP Beer Judge. He lives in Arvada, Colorado where he is a homebrewer and avid craft beer enthusiast. On occasion, Andy is inspired to write on his experiences with craft beer, and if they are not too ridiculous, you might see the results here on