Drink an IPA, Save the Oceans

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North Coast Brewing Company

If there’s anything better than simply drinking a great craft beer, it’s drinking a great craft beer that supports a great cause. The Steller IPA from North Coast Brewing Company checks both boxes. The Fort Bragg, California, brewery recently announced the creation of the North Coast Marine Mammal Research Fund, which will donate proceeds from the IPA’s sales to support marine mammal research and rescue efforts along the Pacific shore.

The Marine Mammal Research Fund represents NCBC’s partnership with three regional organizations. Each organization contributes to research and rescue efforts in an importantly different way, from youth education to doctoral-level research.

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Supporting marine research was a no-brainer for NCBC President and co-founder Mark Ruedrich. “I was always interested in the water and life in the sea,” says Ruedrich, who pursued a degree in zoology in hopes of becoming a marine biologist. Despite a career change, his love for the oceans has remained strong throughout his 28 years at NCBC. “It seems natural for us to support this kind of work,” he says.

While many craft beer drinkers may have heard of Steller IPA, few will be familiar with its namesake, the Steller sea lion. The largest of the five species of sea lions, a male Steller sea lion can weigh up to 2,000 pounds. Like so many ocean-dwelling species, the Steller sea lion has had a rough go over the past few decades. Researchers estimate that the Steller population has declined more than 80 percent since the late 1970s. Statistics like this highlight both the severity of the problem and the importance of research and rescue efforts. “Our hope is that this really helps to raise awareness for what is a very serious environmental problem,” says Ruedrich.

Why sea lions? A valid question, especially considering the region’s rich tradition of whale conservation. (The Mendocino Whale War of 1976 is worth Googling, especially for those younger readers who associate anti-whaling efforts with a certain reality TV show.) As it turns out, however, studying sea lions may carry a bigger payoff from a research perspective. According to Dr. Andrew Trites, head of the Marine Mammal Research unit in Vancouver, “Sea lions are one of the best species we can be studying to really understand how the oceans work and how they’re changing, and also they can help us figure out how we’re going to adapt to those changes.”

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If you haven’t tried the Steller IPA yet, you can expect a “big, hoppy beer,” according to Brewmaster Patrick Broderick. At 6% ABV and 59 IBUs, this dry-hopped brew is well balanced and fairly sessionable. This “unparalleled hop happening” boasts bright notes of grapefruit, muscat and spruce tips.

Not sure where to find Steller IPA? Check out NCBC’s beer finder.

Jay Wood is the former Craft Beer Program Marketing Assistant at the Brewers Association. Originally from Georgia, he loves 80’s hair metal, and he doesn’t trust you if you don’t.

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