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A Riverkeeper Beer Is Named

Courtesy of Riverkeeper

Beer lovers in the Hudson Valley have a new option — and each pint sold helps the environment as part of a first-time collaboration.  The public had a chance to name the limited-time beer via a social media campaign.

Riverkeeper’s online campaign drew roughly 300 suggested names for the beer that will benefit the Ossining-based environmental organization. Dan Shapley is water quality program manager for Riverkeeper. He says there were parameters.

“It’s a little bit aggressive, it’s a little bit fun, and it gets the job done,” Shapley says. “So tell us, what do you think it should be named.”

It came down to five finalists, with the winner announced Wednesday evening at Peekskill Brewery, during the first tasting of the Imperial IPA–style beer. Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay approves of the winning name – Lucky Sturgeon.

“I think it’s a bit of a feel-good name. It sends a positive message,” says Gallay. “We feel lucky at Riverkeeper. If we do our job well, the sturgeon are lucky. The long story short is we’re all lucky if the river is healthy.”

He also approves of the actual beer.

“I love the beer. I’m a huge IPA fan,” says Gallay. “I’ve had about 200 different IPAs and I have a new favorite.”

Credit WAMC, Allison Dunne
The winner of the Riverkeeper beer-naming contest

Rupert from Red Hook in Dutchess County came up with the winning name.

“Honestly, I think a sturgeon’s a fish that would be a beer drinker,” Rupert says. “You look at that fish, have you ever seen, I’ve never picked up a sturgeon, but those placards they have? That thing is gnarly looking. I think a sturgeon would definitely be an IPA drinker, maybe even a stout.”

The other finalists were Clean River, Estuary, Save the Hudson, and Watchdog. Two Westchester breweries -- Peekskill Brewery and Elmsford-based Captain Lawrence Brewery – were partners in brewing the first-of-its-kind collaboration beer to benefit Riverkeeper. Michael Benz is Peekskill Brewery’s Brewery Ambassador. He says it’s the first time his brewery has become involved in brewing for a cause.

“We figured if it’s going to be any cause it should be this one specifically because water is at the heart of what we do,” says Benz.

The City of Peekskill gets its drinking water from the Wiccopee Reservoir, part of the Hudson River watershed. Elmsford gets its drinking water from the New York City supply, which Riverkeeper works to preserve. Shapley talks about how the idea came to fruition.

“Well, I mean the breweries have been great supporters up and down the valley of the Riverkeeper Sweep, our big cleanup in May,” says Shapley. “So we took that partnership where we just saw there was a great willingness on their part to really get involved and do something for the river and do something for Riverkeeper and we just asked.”

He adds:

“Ultimately what we learned through doing this is that beer really is about clean water and we learned it in ways we didn’t even realize when we started in that how much the characteristics of the water coming into the beer-making process really reflect the beer that you can make on the outside edge,” Shapley says. “So protecting clean drinking water, which is a core mission of Riverkeeper, is really also about protecting great beer.”

Gallay says the collaboration is a refreshing change.

“This sort of humanizes us,” says Gallay. “We’re always in court. We’re always out taking samples. We’re always out cleaning up the shoreline. Everybody understands beer. Honestly, this is just good for us.”

Benz says the Imperial IPA-style beer contains citrusy, floral, pungent hops.

“It smells amazing. It’s one of those beers you just want to keep your nose in the glass,” says Benz. “I don’t know if you smelled any of that pineapple and bubble gum and mango. There’s a lot of fun fruits in here.”

Shapley would like the Riverkeeper/brewery hookup to continue.

“My vision is I’d love to work with all of the breweries up and down the river as we do with the cleanup to have more beers like this, to highlight the water sources that all of these breweries are reliant on in different parts of the river, and to highlight clean water and the importance of it to their businesses and to the communities throughout the river,” says Shapley.

Lucky Sturgeon IPA will be available at a tasting at Captain Lawrence brewery September 26 and at the third-annual Hudson Hop and Harvest festival on the Peekskill waterfront October 4, where it will cost $5 for a 12-ounce glass.

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