Monday, March 27, 2023
March 27, 2023

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Off Beat: Brewery marks refuge’s 50th with limited-edition label

By , Columbian Small Cities Reporter

The Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a pairing of beer and birds.

The refuge was created May 18, 1965, as a sanctuary for dusky Canada geese after the Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964 killed 139 people and ravaged the main nesting area for the geese. (With a magnitude of 9.2, it’s the largest American quake on record.)

To commemorate the anniversary, Pelican Brewery in Pacific City, Ore., has released an eye-catching limited-edition label for bottles of its Imperial Pelican Ale. “Celebrating 50 years of conservation,” the label reads above a shout-out to the refuge.

The black-and-gold foil design showcases 50 animal species that call the refuge home. People with a smartphone or tablet can read about each animal by scanning a QR code on the label; it links to a Web page put together by the Friends of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

The idea of working with a brewery came from Refuge Manager Chris Lapp. He initially hoped to partner with a local brewer that would produce a few bottles with a special label.

Pelican took the idea even further. It plans to distribute the bottles not only throughout Washington and Oregon, but also Idaho, Hawaii and perhaps even to a couple other countries.

Locally, the beer is available at lots of grocery outlets and also on tap at some bars and restaurants in Ridgefield.

“It ended up just becoming this great partnership,” Lapp said. “They came up with this design that really took off. A lot of people got excited about it.”

The man behind the design is Pelican’s Marketing Manager Sam Robinette. Working with the refuge seemed natural since it is home to white pelicans in the winter and spring months.

“I’m familiar with the Ridgefield wildlife refuge, and for me it was kind of personal,” he said. As someone who spends about half his time in the Portland area, Robinette calls the refuge “a really tranquil setting. To me, it’s an amazing getaway from the busy-ness of the city.”

A portion of the proceeds will go to the Friends group for its conservation efforts. The company also has donated money from sales of its Silverspot IPA to a habitat restoration project for Oregon’s threatened silverspot butterfly.

Robinette said they probably will distribute the bottles through the end of the year, and possibly into 2016. He’s also optimistic that the partnership will lead to future joint marketing opportunities for the brewery and the refuge.

Off Beat lets members of The Columbian news team step back from our newspaper beats to write the story behind the story, fill in the story or just tell a story.

Columbian Small Cities Reporter