Stories

Essential Ingredients

Good land, good water, good beer

Discriminating beer drinkers know that quality ingredients are essential for any delicious glass of lager, pilsner, stout, porter, or ale. In fact, one of the main elements behind that perfect pint is land conservation.

OSI’s preservation of forests and other natural lands is the key to water quality, and OSI-protected farmland is producing some of the best hops and barley in the country. So the next time you raise a glass of your favorite local brew, offer a toast to the conservation work of OSI and its land conservation partners.  

James Roe and Stuart Morris harvest hops grown at Indian Ladder Farm, conserved by OSI, for the farm's new brewery.
James Roe and Stuart Morris harvest hops grown at Indian Ladder Farm, conserved by OSI, for the farm's new brewery.
Photo Credit: Dietrich Gehring

New Role for an Old Family Farm

Over 40 years, OSI has protected some 13,000 acres in New York’s Capital Region, including miles of Hudson River shoreline, public parks, historic sites, and working farms—such as Indian Ladder Farm in Altamont.

Five years ago, the fourth-generation farm embarked on an experiment: growing hops and barley for craft beer and harvesting its prized apple orchard for cider. Today, Indian Ladder produces ingredients for craft breweries from Albany to Brooklyn, and the word is spreading about its crisp cider.

“Our farm story is a big part of why breweries want to work with us,” said Dieter Gehring, owner of Indian Ladder Farmstead, Cidery & Brewery. “People know this land is conserved, and it’s forever a farm. And they like that the ingredients are all coming from one place.”

Protected Land as Nature’s Water Filter

Southeast of Altamont, in the Catskills’ Beaverkill region, OSI has conserved nearly 20,600 acres of untouched forests and natural lands. Catskill Brewery owner Ramsay Adams said the abundance of pristine water filtered by preserved land was one reason he chose to open his brewery here four years ago.

Today, Catskill Brewery is now an official craft beer of the New York Yankees and enjoys fans from Albany to Coney Island and throughout the Hudson Valley.

“OSI has helped to protect some of the world’s best water,” Adams said. “Without OSI, there’s a good chance the water would have been compromised by development.”

Also flowing through the Catskills region is part of the mighty Delaware River, on its 419-mile journey to the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. OSI’s Delaware River Watershed Protection Fund, capitalized with a $10.2 million grant from the William Penn Foundation, is critical not only for the region’s drinking water but also for its 120 craft breweries.

ShawneeCraft Brewery, located just downriver of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, is one small business applauding clean water.

“OSI’s work through the Delaware River Watershed Initiative helps protect a key part of our business model,” said Jason Startari, the brewery’s marketing manager. “Most breweries use municipal water and pay extra to carbon-filter it, where we only need to filter for sediments.”

And conserved land isn’t just a boon for water used by the brewery along the riverbank.

“Having people come and see the scenery, it makes the beer taste better—it becomes part of the experience,” he said.

Next Story From the Field

Farms and Forests Forever

​OSI’s Klipper Family Fund for the Champlain Valley is using land protection to grow the local economy while saving time-honored rural traditions.