New beer brew to help against blue algae crisis

Non-profit teams up with local brewery

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Blue-green algae. It's a crisis homeowners and businesses on the treasure coast never want to see again.

A local non-profit is teaming up with local business to literally "brew up" a solution to fight the algae crisis. And there's an easy way you can help out.

The blue algae of 2016's summer is what Rufus Wakeman doesn't want to relive again.

"We are going to suffer more discharges and it's just the way it is," said Wakeman, who owns River Palm Cottages and Fish Camp in Jensen Beach.

Last year's algae bloom on the Treasure Coast hurt his business, along with countless others.

"People said, 'I'd rather go somewhere where there's clean water.' Well, I can't say I blame you," he recounted.

He said it was a crisis that he first saw pop up decades ago.

"I saw the water looked black," he said. "Been fighting this since then. Never had any traction whatsoever until this year."

But there's new hope through a new partnership and a new beer.

Twisted Trunk Brewery in Palm Beach Gardens is creating a special beer To raise money for non-profit, Captains for Clean Water.

"We are in educational group, and we advocate for long-term science-based solutions to this problem," said Captain Daniel Andrews, who founded the group. "We kind of bridge the gap between citizens, policymakers and scientists.

Rufus discovered the cause through community meetings.

"They've grabbed the bull by the horn's and really really run with it," he said. "Unfortunately the hands of government move slowly."

Twisted Trunk brought in brewers from Ommegang brewery in Cooperstown, New York to create a new pilsner.

"We are no stranger to water problems in Ommegang. We had the big thing with the hydrofracking a couple of years ago. We were a big part of that movement and got it out of New York," said Justin Lottridge, a brewer with Ommegang Brewery.

Brewers started on the recipe on Friday morning, naming it "Southbound". In addition to the draft at the Twisted Trunk's location, brewers plan to make 150 cases of the special brew.

"It was a great style of beer that they chose because it's crisp and clean and beautiful and refreshing, and that's the way the water should be," Fran Andrewlevich, co-owner of Twisted Trunk Brewery.

Treasure coast resident John Oteri II is helping with the brew.  His baby was born in the middle of the crisis, which made raising a newborn a frightening situation.

"I remember watching WPTV, and they were warning people that there may be airborne toxins," he said. "You bring a little baby into the world it kind of changes your perspective on things. That was the day that I realized that the Florida I had come to love wasn't as beautiful as it used to be."

Captains for Clean Water believes Senate bill 10 is a start, which aims to send discharges to reservoirs south of Lake Okeechobee. But it's the same bill that's garnered widespread outcry from farmers in that area called the Everglades Agricultural Area.

"This is a project that can reduce our early discharges to the estuaries by about 50 percent," said Andrews.

Click here to read more about the concerns farmers and residents have about the bill.

"We can't allow this problem to continue at the benefit of a handful of special interests, when there's 8 million Floridians that depend on the Everglades for drinking water," Andrews added. "There is no simple fix to it, there is no overnight fix. What we need to do is restore the Everglades."

Proceeds will not only help those affected by the algae but will go toward advocacy and educational efforts.

"We ave a lot of boots on the ground, we get a lot of people up to Tallahassee," said Andrews. "We didn't want to just create a relief group that could help support some of the businesses that had lost income in the last few years, we really wanted to make a difference that's going to last for us and for our kids and grandkids."

Twisted Trunk is currently making 800 gallons of beer. It will take over a month for the beer to be finished. The brew will be released during a huge fundraiser on May 20 at Twisted Trunk. If they sell out fast, they hope to make more batches.

Click here to follow the new brew's release date.

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