Backwoods Brewing Company
Gifford Pinchot Pilsner
Gifford Pinchot’s legacy has been thoroughly preserved in Washington and not just by Backwoods Brewing Company’s Gifford Pinchot Pilsner. Carson, WA, the home of Backwoods Brewing Company, is located just across the Columbia River from Oregon as well as on the edge of Gifford Pinchot National Forest. While the beer is certainly delicious, Pinchot would have probably been more pleased with the naming of a National Forest in his honor as he spent his entire life working to conserve the natural world and make it available for all of America’s residents.
Gifford Pinchot (1864-1946) was born in Simsbury, CT to a family that would go on to accumulate great wealth. He attended private schools and Yale University but first studied forestry at the French National School of Forestry in Nancy, France, where he received a graduate degree. His love for forestry was instant and upon returning to the U.S. he dove head-first into the budding conservation movement.
Pinchot’s intelligence, problem solving skills and charm caused him to quickly garner great respect and he rubbed shoulders with many important American leaders. The National Forest Commission was formed by the National Academy of Sciences in 1896 and Pinchot was the only non-Academy member chosen for the committee. He was also asked by President Grover Cleveland to develop a plan for the conservation of America’s Western forestland in 1896, he joined Teddy Roosevelt’s Boone and Crockett Club in 1897, he was appointed as head of the Division of Forestry in 1898 and, with their family’s wealth, he and his father endowed Yale University with the money needed to start a forestry college as well as turn their family’s estate into a headquarters for the national forestry movement. By the turn of the 20th century, Pinchot had made forest service work a respectable career choice and many people began entering the field.
In 1905, during Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency, the Division of Forestry was turned into the United States Forest Service and Pinchot remained at the helm. He became very skilled at negotiating with opposing parties, including those who wished to log and mine the land, those who wished to exploit it for tourism, and those who wished to leave it untouched and preserved. Like Roosevelt, Pinchot not only believed that public lands should remain under federal control and be managed with scientific precision, but he felt that they should also be embraced and shared with America’s citizens. Pinchot was appointed to oversee waterways, dams, forests, wildlife and many of America’s new national parks, and he became a highly respected leader as well as a bit of a celebrity. Americans were (and still are) very fond of the preservation of natural land as well as the development of new parks and tourist sites, and to them, Pinchot was the man who made it all happen.
Pinchot also created newspapers and magazines that supported his point of view as well as hosted debates with prominent conservationists, all of which swayed the public in his favor. After William Howard Taft won the presidential election of 1908, however, the perspective from the White House became much more friendly to the logging industry and in January 1910, Pinchot was fired. The Great Fire of 1910 in Northern Idaho, Washington and Montana was one of the worst forest fires in American history and caused great changes among the U.S. Forest Service. Timber companies convinced Congress that the fire grew to be so destructive because the forests were not properly managed and the U.S. Forest Service quickly turned into a tool of the lumber industry, putting out fires to preserve prime logging locations, building roads to provide deep access into the forestland and allowing the clear-cutting of forests to become the norm. Pinchot would move back East for many years but upon returning to the West and seeing the destruction his former department had permitted, he was devastated.
When Pinchot returned to his home in Pennsylvania, he ran for a position in the U.S. Senate but lost. He flirted with the idea of running for president but instead became Pennsylvania’s 28th Governor in 1923. He served one term and then retired from politics but decided to run again in 1930, ultimately winning a second term by a narrow margin. Pinchot was a strong supporter of Prohibition and when the 18th Amendment was repealed in 1933, he created the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and a system of state-run liquor stores in an attempt to further restrict the sale of alcoholic beverages. He even directed the committee to make purchasing alcoholic drinks “as inconvenient and expensive as possible”. He again ran for senate in 1934 and for governor in 1938 but was unsuccessful each time.
Gifford Pinchot passed away at the age of 81 and is interred at the Milford Cemetery in Pike County, PA. In addition to Backwoods Brewing Company’s Gifford Pinchot Pilsner and the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in southwestern Washington, Pinchot is remembered at the Gifford Pinchot State Park in York County, PA, at Pinchot Hall at Penn State University and at Pinchot Pass on the John Muir Trail in California. The Pinchot Sycamore, which stands in his birthplace of Simsbury, CT, was also named in his honor and is now the largest tree in the state. But above all, Gifford Pinchot is remembered for helping to establish the United States Forest Service and for preserving much of the incredible beauty found all across the United States of America.
From the Brewer: Gifford Pinchot Pilsner is a Czech-style Pilsner, made with Saaz hops and pilsner malt. It is named after Gifford Pinchot, and our local national forest, which is located just a few miles north of our pub. Malt-forward with a crisp bite on the finish.
ABV 5.1%, IBU 40
Kevin Waters - Co-Founder & Brewmaster, Jim & Debbie Waters - Co-Founders & Owners