Fish Brewing Company: Keeping It Green and Crossing Lines

Fish Brewing Company

A lot goes into brewing green. This is especially true of companies who want to remain innovative without compromising their ideals of keeping things organic. For Fish Brewing Company – who brews authentic German-style lagers and British-style ales – the challenge to hand-crafting organic drinks is well-worth the effort.

We talked to Matthew R Lisowski, Sr., general manager at Olympia, WA-based Fish Brewing Company, to find out more about some of their unique drinks, their approach to brewing and what brewing organic is all about.

QUESTION: Can you tell us about what goes into producing organic beer and why you decided to go that route?

ML: We decided to go the route of producing organic beer because we wanted to do our part to preserving our precious land and water resources. We buy only ingredients that are grown using organic practices, which, in a nutshell, means they grown without the use of pesticides, artificial fertilizers (petroleum based), and are not genetically modified in any way. Pesticides and artificial fertilizers run off the land and into the water ways polluting them and killing our precious fish.

It also means we are committed to preserving the organic nature of the product throughout the brewing process by making sure all tanks, lines, and anything the beer comes in contact with is clean and free of any contamination from non-organic products. It is a lot more work, but we feel the clean water is worth it. We are all downstream from somewhere.

QUESTION: In addition to selling bottled drinks, you also sell full kegs directly to the public. Why did you decide to offer this option?

ML: Olympia is a fast and progressive culture. Olympians gather to discuss, reform and enjoy the artisanal nature of products that are offered. Because our local community gathers in large numbers, direct keg sales are better for this atmosphere. We also have an inherent environmental responsibility to our community. Kegs are reusable and produce little to no waste. This medium allows us to lower our carbon footprint and keep our community vibrant and clean. Olympia also has a very eclectic population with a refined craft palate, where large quantities of our beers can be enjoyed and appreciated among many Olympians.

QUESTION: Can you tell us a bit about your Whistling Pig Hefeweizen, one of very few unfiltered wheat beers produced in the US? What makes this drink different and why is it so special?

ML: While there are other filtered HefeWeizens, we pride ourselves on tradition Bavarian beer with a Northwest style twist. The entire Leavenworth line of beers pays tribute the Bavarian culture of the town and the embodiment of nature in the Leavenworth, WA. The name pays homage to Whistling Pig Meadow found in Leavenworth, WA. This beer combines the tradition Bavarian esters of banana, an easy drinking light wheat beer, and also a wonderful hop presence in the beer. Some of the awards for the beer are: Highly Recommended 2011 World Beer Championships Bronze Medal 2011 Great American Beer Festival Bronze Medal 2010 Los Angeles International Beer Competition

Question: Aside from producing organic beers, you are also the nation’s oldest operating commercial craft cider maker. Can you tell us a bit about how you got started and what came first? How do you manage to combine the two industries and do you think they complement each other (and how)?

Matthew Lisowski: In 1986, our CEO had a vision of craft cidery, long before the current boom. This company has always been forward and progressive, being a market leader at developing new and innovative ideas. When our CEO came to fish in 2004, he brought the cidery he had developed to complement Fish Brewing’s innovation, all under one house. In many ways, they complement one another. In terms of the art and craft both product lines look for new and exciting ideas to create new ciders like our Dark and Dry. Also, having a focus on packaged products for the Pacific Northwest we can utilize some of the breweries assets to make a quality product that is affordable to the consumer. Craft beer and craft cider are growing exponentially. This offers breathe and depth to what Fish Brewing and Spire Mountain can add to the overall company.

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Diana Bocco is a writer and author who writes for Yahoo!, the Discovery Channel website, Marie Claire, Poplar Mechanics, and more. You can find more about her work on her website

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