Life can’t exist without H2O, and if it could it probably wouldn’t be much fun.

The awesome atomic cocktail that makes Earth habitable — aka Adam’s ale, aka water — is also the primary ingredient in beer.

“You can’t have good beer without good water,” says Peaks N Pines co-owner and general manager Teresa Vieira, whose Colorado Springs brewery opened its second location in August in downtown Fountain. “Clean water is good drinking water and it’s essential to making good beer. We couldn’t do it without it.”

The Fountain Creek Watershed District is tapping into that elemental connection in hopes of inspiring a watershed moment in watershed awareness for the central and southern Front Range.

The district’s “Brewshed Alliance,” modeled after a successful municipal program founded in the Pacific Northwest, aims to engage residents and visitors in an appreciation of local water initiatives and education through hands-on stewardship and support of such efforts.

It’s a first-of-its kind for Colorado, said the agency’s outreach coordinator, Alli Schuch.

“It’s one way to get people outside, and to realize some of the issues we have to deal with as water managers,” said Schuch, whose district covers more than 900 square miles from Palmer Lake to Pueblo. “That includes raising awareness about the littering issue and helping make people understand the importance of clean water, for drinking, for recreation, for just the enjoyment of the community we live in … and for beer.”

Since beer is composed of around 95% water, and the craft community has shown itself to be an altruistic bunch, the partnership seemed a natural one, she said.

“We thought, how can we continue to reach out to new audiences? This is a great opportunity to do that,” said Schuch.

The Front Range “Brewshed” includes 20 area breweries, all of whom have agreed to either marshall volunteer troops for local waterway cleanups or support the work of other teams through fundraising events. A map of participants, as well as stickers, posters and “edu-taining” coasters explaining the goals and promoting the initiative, are available at member locations.

Saturday’s annual Clean and Crawl cleanup and fundraiser at Peaks N Pines in Fountain comes near the close of the sixth annual Creek Week, the largest statewide watershed-cleanup project.

“The past three years it (Clean and Crawl) has been supported by the Leinenkugel Brewing Company, but they pulled out this year and we thought it would be a great opportunity to highlight our Brewshed Program,” Schuch said.

Clean and Crawl participants commit to spending the morning doing cleanup along Fountain Creek, and then get a T-shirt, lunch and sudsy fortification at the Illinois Avenue brewery. Cost is $25 per person or $40 per pair, with proceeds benefiting future watershed work and programs.

“It’s basically an urban cleanup that begins and ends at a brewery, with a party afterwards,” Schuch said. “It’s a great way to clean up the area, and also engage with the citizens who might be strolling the streets, or going to get a cup of coffee — and for them to see all these people out here working together. It’s a great way to start a conversation.”


Stephanie Earls is a news reporter and columnist at The Gazette. Before moving to Colorado Springs in 2012, she worked for newspapers in upstate NY, WA, OR and at her hometown weekly in Berkeley Springs, WV, where she got her start in journalism.

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