Worthy Brewing Company’s newest seasonal beer, Tenmile Dry Hopped Lager, is a crisp and crushable summertime brew that showcases the brewery’s signature Strata hop. The release brings an environmental focus as well, with specially-recyclable packaging, and a portion of sales benefiting Operation Appleseed, which supports forest rejuvenation across Oregon.
While the brewery is best known for its hoppy ales, it has been branching out. “Don’t get me wrong, we love our IPAs, but we’ve been moving in the direction of lagers and pilsners for a few years now,” said head brewer Dustin Kellner in the news release. I reached out to Kellner to find out more about the inspiration behind Tenmile.
“Honestly, we had had so much fun working on Sol Power Pils that we wanted to design a beer that would be just as crushable yet see how the Strata hop performed at a lower dry hopping rate than our IPA,” he wrote via email.
“The original idea actually came about when we were brainstorming what our 2019 (Oregon Brewers Festival) beer was going to be. We had a few kegs left from the batch made for the Brewers Fest and they received a ton of positive feedback from our pub patrons.”
Worthy’s founder, Roger Worthington, was instrumental in supporting Oregon State University’s hop breeding program which developed the Strata hop variety. Worthy Brewing was an early adopter, brewing test pilot batches with it and other hops in development, and was the first to release a beer under the “Strata” name.
The base of the lager is a classic German pilsner malt, which contributes biscuit, toffee, and honey like flavors while fermenting light and clean. Strata’s signature contributions are aromas of tropical fruits such as mango, passion fruit, and fresh strawberry, as well as a spicy, herbal cannabis character.
Worthy provided me with a six-pack of Tenmile to review. It is five percent alcohol by volume with 23 IBUs.
The beer pours a bright, clear, pale golden yellow, with a billowy head of lacy and fine white foam. The aroma showcases lightly spicy hops that go a bit wild with a hint of dandelion greens, and I also get white pepper, green lemon zest, and a green fruit note akin to unripe raspberries. A whiff of dank herbs rounds it out.
There’s a crisp and clean graininess in the flavor with a fresh, bright hop presence exhibiting some evergreen and forest floor, along with minty greens and slightly bitter, under ripe berries. The malt is flavorful and light, and brings to mind bread crust and Grape Nuts cereal. Overall it’s light-bodied and bracing and finishes with a nice snap of green hops.
To my mind, it resembles an Italian-style pilsner, with an American twist. The hallmark of this emerging style is the intense dry-hopping that gives it a bright, floral hop character. Where Tenmile deviates is in the addition of Strata rather than the European hop varieties commonly used.
Where does environmental sustainability factor in? With the packaging. The six-pack carriers replace the traditional plastic rings and the newer PakTech can carriers with a compostable carrier similar in composition to cardboard egg cartons. According to the brewery, the carrier is composed of organic plant-based material that completely decomposes in about a month.
The cans themselves feature a new design process that uses a water-based ink for digital printing, which uses 90 percent less ink and avoids paper or plastic shrink wrapping that has become popular. It turns out these types of labels can be problematic for recycling the aluminum; the shrink-wrapped plastic and vinyl can pose a fire risk and cause excess wear and tear to recycling equipment.
Finally, Operation Appleseed, an initiative launched by the Worthy Garden Club whose goal is to plant one million new trees in Oregon over the next three years, receives a portion of the sales. The beer’s name comes from one of Operation Appleseed’s projects on the coast; Tenmile is a creek in the Siuslaw National Forest a few miles south of Yachats, and the organization is helping to re-wild a 63-acre parcel straddling it that was clear-cut nearly a century ago.
I enjoyed the beer and found it incredibly drinkable, particularly as the days have been warming up. It’s a worthwhile addition to your summer beer fridge, and you’ll be contributing to Worthy’s environmental efforts at the same time.