Spotlight on Butte’s Anti-Fracking Beer Campaign

by Katie Wilken, Butte College student

Interviewed by Meredith Jacobson, CSSC Online Content Manager


What is the general summary of this campaign?

Sparked by issues of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in our local community, we have started this campaign as a way to bring awareness about fracking for liquid natural gas and shale oil in California to a broader audience – especially to those who may not be focused on the issue already. Chico is a beer drinking town and many college students gladly support the local products of the Sierra Nevada brewery. During a break out session at Powershift 2013, we considered Sierra Nevada’s efforts to operate sustainably and the respect their products receive with their name. We suggested joining with a local brewery, like their Chico factory, and persuading the production team to develop an activist beer as a means of advertisement for the anti-fracking movement. We are currently working on our pitch to the Sierra Nevada production team and are hoping it will be a successful project.

Who is running this campaign? What organization, how many students?

This campaign is made up of nine students taking a capstone class as part of the Butte College Sustainability Studies Certificate program. We are all at different points of completion of the certificate, but all provide something unique to incorporate with the project.

What successes have you had?

So far we have had a successful brainstorming and divided up tasks. We will be holding meetings and working on our pitch for the next few weeks.

What are the next steps?

We are planning to visit the Sierra Nevada taproom to sample their beer varieties so we can properly research possible ingredients for our anti-fracking ale. This project provides an opportunity to learn about beer brewing, and if we are going to present on a beer brew idea, we’d feel better knowing a bit about it first. We also figured we would take a free tour and research the process of beer brewing at the factory, which will help us figure out how much water is involved in making beer – and the actual impacts Sierra Nevada would face if fracking chemicals contaminated their ground water source. Since finals are around the corner and within our group we have students traveling for the winter break, we are getting as much as possible done now and meeting up to present our idea to the Sierra Nevada brewery production team around the first of February of 2014. We would like to bust through the doors with our idea, but we want to be well prepared and stress free about the process.

Why this campaign? Why are you excited about it?

Campaigning against hydraulic fracturing is important all Californians because our water systems are so precious. We can’t replace our aquifers with bottles of Dasani, so we need to fight back to maintain the fresh water that we have. I hope that through this project, we as a class are capable of persuading Sierra Nevada brewery into creating an anti-fracking ale to educate people of the issues surrounding hydraulic fracturing.


You can read about Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s Sustainability Mission here.

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