10 Brewing Companies That Protect Our Fish

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Sweetwater Brewing Company gives back to many fisheries.

Not all of us would fancy the idea of pairing beer and fly fishing together. To each their own, but it’s safe to say that the majority of fly fishers enjoy the refreshing taste of one or two cold beers after a long day on the water. For me, drinking a couple beers at dusk with my fishing buddies and reminiscing about the catches and the days debacles seem to enhance my overall fishing experience. It relaxes and grounds me, it helps me to see more clearly why I choose to go out and cast a fly rod in the first place, and how special the people are around me that I share my water with. We all have our favorite beers that we like to drink. Some of us are so loyal, we’ve got our go to beer, and we only stray from it when it’s not available. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, believe me, I’m right there with ya, but before I go any further, let me ask you one question. Would you stray from your regular beer of choice if you had an option to buy another brand if it donated significant amounts of money that went towards protecting your watersheds and fisheries? I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I could learn to acquire the taste of a new beer if I knew a portion of the coin I was dropping was going towards real conservation efforts.

Below is a list of 10 beer brewing companies that make a point to not only strive to hold the highest of green business practices, but they also take it a step further and donate significant amounts of money annually to fish and wildlife conservation organizations.

1. Sweetwater Brewing Company


I have a tight bond with the Sweetwater Brewing Company in Atlanta, GA, and it’s not simply because they’re located in my home state. The Sweetwater Brewing Company donates hundreds of thousands of dollars a year towards their Save the River Campaigns. The owners have deep roots in fly fishing as well, and they’ve even supported fly fishing guide operations in my back yard. The next time you see this bottle on the shelf or on tap at your local watering hole, remember that they genuinely care about conservation and are very proactive in the restoration and protection of our fisheries.

2. Deschutes Brewery Co.


Despite the Deschutes Brewery Co. making damn good tasting beer, they also make regular donations to the following conservation foundations and organizations: Alliance for the Great Lakes, Deschutes Land Trust, Deschutes River Conservancy, Forest Park Conservancy, Fresh Water Trust, Oregon Freshwater Trust, Upper Deschutes Watershed Council and many more.

3. New Belgium Brewing Co.


I love my Fat Tire beer but I love it even more now that I know that the New Belguim Brewing Company donates upwards of $150,000 every year towards the protection of the Colorado River. Drink up and support this company because they’re doing their part to provide us a nice buzz and protect our rivers.

4. Full Sail Brewing Co. 


I count vouch for the taste of Full Sail beer because I’ve not popped the cap on one, but I was impressed when I read about the great steps the company has taken to make their brewing company as green as possible. For example, they’ve streamlined the production to maximize its efficiency and they shortened their work week to four days. Doing so, saves them from using over 3 million gallons of water a year. They also make solid donations to numerous fish conservation organizations as well.

5. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.


I’ve enjoyed this IPA beer since the college days. In 2010, The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company was named one of the Top 12 Green Businesses of the Year by the EPA. They keep 99.5% of the companies solid waste out of the landfill through recycling and composting, and 85% of their electricity comes from renewable power. The company also donates significant funds to Western Rivers Conservancy.

6. Anheuser-Busch


I know what you all are probably thinking, “Anheuser-Busch, get real”. The fact is, Anheuser-Busch partners every year with the River Network to support a host of watershed protection projects. You still can look at it as a redneck beer, but the company does support the protection of our fisheries and watersheds.

7. Alaskan Brewing Co.


I sucked a few of these back after my stint guiding in Alaska back in 2006. Unfortunately, I live to far south and east to be able to get my hands on any of it. The Alaskan Brewing Company donates 1% to the Coastal CODE, which stands for: Clean Oceans Depend on Everyone.

8. Fish Brewing Company


I enjoyed some of these beauties a couple months back with some friends traveling and fly fishing in Idaho. The Fish Brewing Company donates funds to several conservancy wildlife organizations, some of which are: Trout Unlimited, Save the Wild Salmon, Pugent Soundkeeper Alliance. You’ve got to dig the logo as well.

9. Ninkasi Brewing Company


This Oregon based brewing company that praises the Goddess Ninkasi for the miracle of fermentation. They believe beer should be a staple for every civilization and they are a very green company. Ninkasi Brewing Company donates all profits of their “Conservation Ale” to the McKenzie River Trust for their restoration and habitat efforts.

10. Great Lakes Brewing Company


If you’re a big fan of fly fishing the Great Lakes and it’s tributaries, I’d like to then suggest for you to support the Great Lakes Brewing Company next chance you get. The company donates annually to the Burning River Foundation, which embraces: Ecological Conservation, Environmental Protection and Education/Involvement.

That’s my list of 10 beer brewing companies that go out of their way to protect our fisheries and watersheds. I know there’s plenty of companies that I didn’t mention on this list. Please feel free to showcase them through the comments section of this post.

I’d also like to share with all of you that Coors Brewing Company has one of the worst records for environmental green practices and fish kills on record. It brings me pain knowing I’ve probably drank more Coors Light beers in my life than all other beers combined. Check out this link that might persuade you to boycott the Coors Brewing Company. Coors is a habitual fish killer.


I’ll end the post from a quote by Terry Hackett who once said, “Any fly fisher knows that you can’t always count on the fish to cooperate, but you can always count on a good beer when the day is done”.

Keep it Reel,

Come fish with us in the Bahamas!

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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30 thoughts on “10 Brewing Companies That Protect Our Fish

  1. I’ve always been a big fan of beer and micro breweries, and living in Ga affords me the opportunity to have constant supply of Sweetwater brews in my fridge. I’ve been to the brewery several times, and if you take the tour they’ll be the first to tell you how they help conservationist groups take care of our rivers and streams. Every summer they release their “Waterkeeper” hefeweizen and profits from sales go to a local conservationist group. A great beer and great people.
    I had no idea Coors was such an irresponsible company when it comes to the environment. I’m not a big fan of Coors, but I’ll make the effort to avoid it after reading that article. Douchebags!

    • Justin,

      I’m proud to have Sweetwater Brewing Company in my back yard for sure. I also was disgusted when I read about all those environmental disasters Coors has been at fault for. They blatantly do whatever they want for their own good. Hope they see this and check themselves. Thanks for the comment.


    • I live in CO, and the Coors brewery is not far from my house. I have boycotted BP gas stations since 2006 when they won a BS court case allowing them to continue dumping tons of waste into Lake Michigan from their plant in Indiana. I’m not an environmental nut, but I also do not stand for companies that willingly F the environment for their own gain. If you intend on boycotting Coors, as I do, you should know that they also brew Blue Moon and the exclusive to CO brew, Native. F you Coors. I’m so glad Joe Coors didn’t get elected to office here last election.

  2. Straub brewery in North Central PA participates in a stocking program with one of the local fly shops. They always stock in the fall and spring and use a private hatchery and the fish are always grade A browns.

  3. Huge supporter of environmental conservation. While I’m extremely disappointed to read the article on Coors, I would like to point out that the article is 12 years old. Hopefully Coors has improved its efforts in sustainability since then and would like to see some update on their efforts to do so.

    • I’d like to follow up on this as well, since the article was published in 2001…how has their record been since?

      …and how about since they merged with Miller Brewing?

      It is now :MillerCoors (nor CoorsMiller) ans Miller has taken the lead in the new company, has there has this, or the considerable amount of time since the article had any effect?

      • Jeez…let me try this again:

        “…It is now :MillerCoors (not CoorsMiller) and Miller has taken the lead in the new company, has this, or the considerable amount of time since the article had any effect?

        …sometimes I wonder if English is my first language…

      • Further North,

        Thanks for bringing this up. I will quickly tell you what hit home to me about that article and it wasn’t that it was published way back in 2001. It was the fact that Coors had knowingly dumped heavy metals and other substances and been caught multiple times, which was spread out over a decade. Its really hard for me to trust a company looking forward when they’ve blatantly only looked out for their own interests and ignored the law. Hopefully the merger will change the culture in the right direction. Time will tell. With all the other great beer companies out there practicing green operations and also giving back to fish and wildlife conservation organizations, that’s where I am going to purchase my beer in the future. I’m not telling anyone else what beer to buy. Just wanted to educate and give props to those companies that have good morals.


        • Thanks Kent; you look at things in much the same way I do…which is why I’d hoped to find out what has gone on in the intervening years. What often happens when incidents like the ones in the article happen is that those responsible are quietly shuffled off to positions where they can no longer have such a negative effect on a company’s image…sometimes shuffled right out the door, particularly in a merger situation where there are often two people (or groups) competing for a job that is done by one person (ore group). A black mark like those makes it much easier for management to make a decision…..

          12 years is certainly long enough to allow that to happen

          I’ll dig in some more when I get home tonight.

          Thanks for bringing up the topic to begin with – it’s the kind of thing we can all get behind and vote with our wallets if we need to…it’s a great way to send a message!

  4. It’s great to see a local company like Sweetwater at the top of your list. It’s impressive how much they contribute to the local waterways not to mention the fact that they have some great beers. A friend of mine has guided the owners on the river and said they are a blast to take out. On another note, I purchased Coors original over the weekend and now have a completely different outlook on those golden cans in my fridge….

    Great write up.


  5. Thanks, very enlightening and interesting article. Anglers are a major consumer group, as a Brit (flyfishing in Mexico & Belize now) I know there are over 2 million anglers in the UK angling is the biggest participant sport in the UK. God knows how many anglers there are in the USA?

    That strikes me as two powerful consumer groups, who can let their “drinking arms” do the talking and support breweries (and for that matter other products and companies) that have the interest of our watercourses, lakes, oceans and the environment in general at heart.

  6. 11. Upslope Brewery in Boulder, CO 1% to Rivers. From their website:

    “Colorado Trout Unlimited is thrilled to engage in the 1% for Rivers partnership with Upslope Brewing Company,” said Sinjin Eberle, CTU President. “This type of collaboration is a great model for how businesses that depend on our natural resources can help to protect the places we love, and ensure the quality of their products at the same time.”

  7. 11. Upslope Brewery in Boulder, CO 1% to Rivers. From their website:

    “Colorado Trout Unlimited is thrilled to engage in the 1% for Rivers partnership with Upslope Brewing Company,” said Sinjin Eberle, CTU President. “This type of collaboration is a great model for how businesses that depend on our natural resources can help to protect the places we love, and ensure the quality of their products at the same time.”

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  9. Great list!
    Bells should be on there, too. Not only do they serve up a nice Two Hearted Ale, but they’ve filed a lawsuit against Enbridge for its pipeline spill in the Kalamazoo River. While not a trout fishery there, the small mouth fishing in that stretch is/was great.
    Thanks for the research fellas!

    • Amen to Two Hearted! Live out east now and have to get constant shipments from any family, friends or casual acquaintances happening to make the Michigan – New Jersey pilgrimage

  10. Nice to see six of my favorites on the list. A reason to drink more of their stuff. Interesting to note it takes four to eight barrels of water to brew a single barrel of beer but hoppy beers use the most amount of water. Thanks for the post.

  11. check out striped bass pale ale by devils backbone brewing company in central va. proceeds from sales go towards conservation practices with the chesapeake bay foundation to keep those stripers coming back!

    • Love the Devils Backbone eight point IPA now I’ll be sure to look for the striped bass pale ale. Thumbs up to all these great brewing companies for their great work, and good beer

  12. Nice work Kent. I also enjoy a good micro brew. I also am pretty sure Sierra Nevada is Non-GMO, which makes it even better.

  13. Abita makes a pilsner that comes in a bottle with the label painted on (im a sucker for painted on labels and good causes) called S.O.S. (save our shore) that donates $0.75 from every bottle to the gulf cleanup effort.


  14. cool article,
    when I went out west and fished the bitterroot one of the locals I fished with gave me a few “trout slayer” beers… I have yet to find it out here but I think I remember him saying something about their donations, either way it was a damn fine beer that I can not locate in the east.

  15. I should have mentioned that Upslope is headquartered in Boulder, Colorado and note that Alaska Amber and sometimes other Alaska brews ARE often available locally.

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