Standing Stone Brewing Company

Sustainability

Building a Better Burger: Our Local Beef

Here at Standing Stone Brewing Co., we seek out local, sustainably produced ingredients as much as possible to provide healthful quality food, support our local economy and improve our ecological impact.

This summer, we took an additional step in this direction by switching our beef purchases to Valley View Beef, a farm located just four miles from our brewery and restaurant! We use Valley View in menu favorites such as the Standing Stone Cheeseburger and our specialty beef cuts of the day.  Depending on what the kitchen has prepared, we’ve featured items from Fillet Mignon to Vietnamese Pho, which is prepared with strips of rare beef in a housemade broth.

We’re especially excited to work with Valley View Beef because they use holistic, organic and sustainable farming practices that are better for the cattle, the environment and consumers. The cattle graze freely on open pasture using a management-intensive rotational system that helps rejuvenate the grass and soil, with the herd moved from one section to another sequentially. We also keep our chickens on the same farm in a mobile coop and fencing system that we move around with the cattle, enhancing the land even more.

The land and the cattle are chemical free – no fertilizers, antibiotics or hormones are used. This means that our guests get to enjoy full-flavored grass-fed beef that’s humanely raised and free of chemicals.

Grass-fed beef is also said to have health benefits such as higher Omega 3’s and key vitamins, and lower saturated fat and cholesterol versus conventional beef, as reported in the New York Times. On the environmental side, pastured beef systems have lower carbon emissions than feedlot-raised cattle and help sequester carbon, according to TIME Magazine.

Once the cows have been purchased the cattle must be transported to Roseberg, a few hours away, for slaughtering and initial processing since that’s where the closest USDA-approved facility is located. We’re exploring ways to localize this process, too, such as supporting a mobile slaughter unit that would be come to the farm.

After the trip to Roseburg, we bring the meat back to the restaurant in halves and quarters. Our trained kitchen staff performs all the butchering in house. It takes a full day of two or three chefs working arund the clock to properly cut the beef. The burgers are fresh-ground and the steaks are specially cut.

When our  customers see the specialty steak of the day on the specials board, they can be assured that the cut is freshly prepared and the meat came straight from a sustainable, humane farm next door.

Standing Stone Places 6th in Siskiyou Challenge Relay Race!

Last Saturday, as the sun rose at 6:45am, the Standing Stone crew gathered at the inaugural Siskiyou Challenge, a multi-sport relay benefitting Rogue Valley Farm to School.

Clad in running shorts with kayaks and bikes in tow, five of our athletic and energetic employees collected in a pre-race huddle with supporting coworkers cheering around them.

Fifty three teams participated in this five-leg relay race. The beneficiary, Rogue Valley Farm to School, is a great nonprofit that connects schools and farms through educational programs and farm-to-cafeteria partnerships. The scenic course covered 46 miles around Ashland and Talent across land and water, touring farms, orchards, lakes and parks.

The weather and course were beautiful, the volunteers were amazing and we had a blast sharing the day with the rest of the participants and community. Team Standing Stone huffed and puffed and came in 6th overall with a time of 4:05:59!

Here is run down of the course and our participants for each:

  • 11K run – Rob Koning
  • 3K kayak course – Mike DuBois
  • 25 mile road bike – Brandon Schilling
  • 9.5 mile mountain bike – David Conley
  • 5K run – Gina Velando

Racers crossed the finish line at ScienceWorks to enjoy good food, live music and the company of their teammates, fellow racers and supporters. Treats at the post-race festival included baked goods from Ashland Food Cooperative, coffee and pastries from  Rogue Valley Roasting Co and handmade ice cream in fresh waffle cones from Artik Creamery. Standing Stone was a lead sponsor and provided a free post-race meal and beer to all participants, of course using lots of local food.

We were thrilled to participate in the Siskiyou Challenge, both as a racing team and as a sponsor since we’re a long time supporter of RVF2S. We want to thank RVF2S for the great race and all the participants for a huge turnout. Siskiyou Challenge, we’ll see you next year and we hope to see an even bigger turnout at this great event!

Wine on Tap Continues to Sparkle

By now, most of our frequent customers know about the kegged wine we offer in cooperation with Wooldridge Creek Winery in the Applegate Valley. After a year of pouring this great vintage we want to rave about it again and recap our success with this progressive program.

Last June we contracted our first order of Wooldridge Creek wine in 15.5 gallon kegs. We started with three varieties: Chardonnay, Cabernet, and Tempranillo. The goals of the using wines in kegs are to offer customers quality house wine at a lower cost, and reduce our natural resource use and carbon footprint by shrinking the materials used for packaging and the fuel consumed in distribution. The concept is catching on nationally as winemakers seek to save costs, eliminate waste and help the planet.

Customer feedback and our own taste testing assures us that quality is never compromised. Customer conversations are engaging and positive. More and more, we are pleasing guests by showing them bulk wine is good to the last drop.

We asked Wooldridge Creek winemaker, Greg Paneitz, to share some facts about the overall environmental impact that Standing Stone and Wooldridge Creek have made by serving kegged wines. Here’s what kindly he broke down for us:

We have delivered a total of 634 gallons of wine in kegs since we started about a year ago.

That is equal to:

267 cases

3210 bottles, corks, labels and foils

10,680 pounds of glass (Over 5 tons)

Just to give you an idea of what that looks like; 267 cases is 7 pallets of glass.

Wow, pretty cool reality check.

We know that glass is the largest contributor to a winery’s carbon footprint. Together, we are doing a nice job of mitigating that fact.

Wine deliveries have gone from once a week to once every four to six weeks. A single vehicle makes one 65 mile round trip, with enough space saved from eliminating bottles to fit everything securely inside one regular sized delivery car.

Recently, we have added a sparkling Brut to our taps for customers to enjoy. Following the same principles as the other wines on tap, the Brut stays sparkling and fresh pour after pour. How nice to enjoy a glass with dinner or dessert, or as a delicious palate cleanser between courses.

To learn more about Standing Stone and Wooldridge Creek’s cooperative relationship, follow this link to an article in the Ashland Daily Tidings. The trend is expanding to other local restaurants as well. Oregon Winepress featured a story on the winery’s growing distribution to 4 Daughter Irish Pub in Medford, Ore. and several other regional eateries.

Eat Local Week – Celebrating Regional Bounty!

We love autumn since it’s peak harvest season for local farms. This week is “Eat Local Week,” a time to celebrate and savor the bounty. Of course, since we’re a brewery, we like to think of it as Eat and Drink Local Week. We also think every week should be Eat Local Week!

If you’re in the Rogue Valley, check out the event lineup and sign up for the Eat Local Challenge. We’re offering menu specials (vote for us if you like them) and will be participating in THRIVE’s Rogue Flavor fundraising dinner on September 19. If you live elsewhere, look for similar campaigns or join us virtually and cook up something in your area next year.

Here at Standing Stone, sourcing from producers is a priority. Chef Eric Bell loves to check out the local Growers Markets to find the best of our region’s offerings. There are lots of benefits to filling your plate with homegrown goodness. For starters, fresh, local food tastes better, and it’s often more nutritious. Buying local preserves regional farmland, supports like minded small businesses and keeps our dollars circulating in our economy. We also reduce the environmental footprint needed to transport ingredients.

In honor of Eat Local Week, here’s a spotlight on some of the local producers who make our menu so delicious. Stop by and enjoy the fruits of their labor!

Tobias & Abigail Hatfield, Full Circle Bison (photo: FCB)

Produce: We source from a diverse group of small-scale organic and sustainable growers in our Rogue Valley region. These include Fry Family Farm, HappyDirt Veggie Patch, Barking Moon Farm, multiple members of the Siskiyou Sustainable Cooperative and Village Farm. We love to feature farms in our specials, so check our specials board to meet your farmer.

Alpha Beta Hops provides some of our hops, grown organically right here in Ashland. Check out recent TV coverage (KTVL) and an article (Mail Tribune) on the farm.

Full Circle Bison Ranch provides the delicious, healthful, grass-fed bison we use. Located a stone’s throw away in Williams, Ore., they’re Certified Organic (no hormones, antibiotics or additives) and raise their animals on expansive pasture.

Photo: Valley View Beef

Noble Coffee Roasting is located just a few blocks away. They source exceptionally high-quality organic coffee directly from farmers through fair trade practices and work with producers on community development projects.

Rogue Creamery is an award-winning artisan cheese maker down the road in Central Point, Ore. They use local, sustainable sources and have earned the Food Alliance’s Certified Sustainable label.

Valley View Beef is nestled 4 miles away in Ashland, OR. The cattle graze freely on chemical-free pasture year round and don’t receive any hormones, antibiotics or synthetic chemicals. Our very own chickens are on the same farm, sharing the pasture in a rotational grazing system.

“Tap Into You” Employee Yoga Program

We’re extraordinarily fortunate to have Lindsey Holy, server and yoga instructor, on our team.  She teaches yoga classes for employes right here at Standing Stone. This week, she’s our guest writer on our blog.

I’ve been with Standing Stone Brewing Company for about a year and a half as a server. I love being part of a company that supports the health and happiness of our community, visitors and employees. In the last year, my work with SSBC has expanded beyond serving tables to include teaching a yoga class for employees.

In March 2010, I proposed ‘Tap into You!’ a workplace yoga program for the employees of Standing Stone. The program is based off Standing Stone’s employee bike program, which offers incentives for participation. Employees receive a free hops-themed, environmentally friendly yoga mat after attending twelve yoga sessions, which are free!

Every Friday morning, I arrive at the restaurant with an iPod and a yoga mat ready to go. My friends and co-workers sleepily follow and we share in a wonderful yoga practice, with the smell of fresh bread and beer in the building.

It means so much to me that Standing Stone has supported and helped me bring this program to life. It gives me great pride and it’s an incredible chance to share what I know in yoga with my Standing Stone family. ‘Tap Into You!’ has benefits that show across the board. Healthier workers have more sustained energy and are less likely to call in sick. Yoga offers a dynamic physical benefit. Employees use their bodies all day. Keeping in tune with their anatomy brings substantial health and well-being improvements, on and off the clock.

The classes have introduced many to yoga for the first time. I’ve seen it enhance teamwork and poise in the fast-paced restaurant environment, as well as in individual lives. A lot of my co-workers have started practicing yoga outside of the restaurant’s program, and I’m proud watching people work towards healthier, happier ways of living.

In other words, SSBC has some new moves!  The program was highlighted on KTVL. Check out a video clip!

I’m happy to help other businesses get started. Please contact me via my website if you have any questions, comments or suggestions regarding this program.

Meet Our New SSBC Chickens

Lately around Standing Stone we’re talking a lot about eggs.

Actually, we’ve been talking a lot about chickens, our very own flock.

In late June, Standing Stone purchased 44 chickens from Heritage Meadow Farms in the Applegate Valley. We’ve had a cooperative relationship for years, trading spent grain as feed for chickens in return for eggs for our menu. When we heard that Heritage Meadows was selling their flock, we jumped on the opportunity to keep this cycle going closer to home.

We purchased the chickens, built a coop and leased land for their new home, less than 4 miles from our restaurant. In less than one week, Standing Stone completed all this and set up an in-house egg-producing operation!  We now raise a large enough flock to supply all of our eggs on the menu, offering you healthy, local and truly delicious eggs.

Dave Westerberg, owner of Valley View Farms, was also excited about this opportunity and offered his land as home for the chickens. Valley View is the supplier for all of the beef used at Standing Stone.  Allowing the chickens to co-exist with the cattle was a no-brainer. The two species thrive in a symbiotic relationship, with the chickens and cattle grazing in a rotation across several pastures on the property.

The chickens eat exclusively Standing Stone compost, as well as grass and insects from the land. Their spacious coop features lot of nesting boxes and is a mobile unit that we move around the land to help the pasture rejuvenate and provide fresh grazing space. Our employees deliver fresh feed daily, including the spent grain from our brewing tanks, vegetable scraps, and bread crusts. And, they’re antibiotic and hormone free – we wouldn’t have them any other way.

KTVL featured a story on the coop and how the eggs are used in the restaurant.  Click here to view the video and get up close and personal with flock. You can also check out an article from the Daily Tidings and a video from KTVL for a sneak peek at our next venture in localizing our food – leasing land to raise more chickens and livestock.

p.s. Come check out our window display in the front of the restaurant! Employee, Melza Quinn, spent a day at the farm taking pictures of the cows and chickens so everyone walking by can enjoy their happy faces!

Standing Stone Bike Program Rolls Into Second Year

This month marks the One-Year Anniversary of the kick off of our Standing Stone Brewing Co. Commuter Bike Program: the RPM Club. The goal is to Reduce car trips, Promote living and working in Ashland, and Maintain an active lifestyle

Employees who’ve worked 1000 hours with Standing Stone and agree to bike commute at least 45 times to and from work per year receive a free Kona commuter bike.

We’ve had rolling success with this program, with over 700 logged trips made among our employee bike commuters! This is truly exciting for Standing Stone, since a large majority of our bike riders were car commuters before last August.

Since purchasing our first round of 17 bikes, with a lot of support from Ashland Bicycle Works, we’ve added another four to our fleet and piqued interest in our program from other businesses in the area. Rogue Creamery purchased their own bikes last year after consulting with our owners and admiring our enthusiastic employees. In fact, they brought on even more bikes to their staff than our original round!

In celebration of our anniversary, we will be participating in the annual Bike Commute Challenge put on by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance of Oregon. For the month of September, businesses and individuals who participate log trips and mileage to challenge others in the state and local community. And we do it just for fun! We have several employees who have not yet received their Standing Stone Commuter bikes and they still participated last year to contribute a large portion of our logged miles. A big thanks to our staff for showing motivation all on their own!

Siskiyou Challenge Multi-Sport Relay Sept. 25th – Join the Fun!

At Standing Stone, we’re big fans of delicious, sustainable, local foods and the farmers that provide them. We also love to enjoy our beautiful surroundings, through hiking, biking, running, swimming, rafting and other recreation.

So, when we heard about the Siskiyou Challenge, a multi-sport relay race held on September 25th here in Ashland, OR, we jumped in to support it and want to encourage others to get involved.

The race benefits Rogue Valley Farm to School, one of our favorite nonprofits. They connect schools and local farms to teach kids about sustainable farming and healthy eating, and get school lunch programs to use locally produced foods.

The route is scenic and challenging with 5 legs: 11K run, 3K kayak, 25-mile road bike, 9-mile mountain bike and 5K run. It begins and ends at ScienceWorks and passes through farms, orchards, mountains, parks and central Ashland, with the kayak leg at Emigrant Lake. Individual or teams up to five people can participate. There’s also a fun run/walk for those who prefer a more bite-sized course.

Beautiful Emigrant Lake

After the race, we’ll be serving a free meal to all racers, of course featuring local foods. Other sponsors are providing great prizes for a random drawing and awards for overall winners. Adding to the festivities, there will be a pre-race barbeque on September 24th in Lithia Park.

Join us in the fun and sign up to race or volunteer. You can get more information on the event website or contact the race director, Deborah Gordon, via email or phone: 541-944-4118.

Hats off to Deborah, co-organizer Tracy Harding of Rogue Valley Farm to School and the rest of the great sponsors! See you there!

Brewing Up Organic

Our beer contains over 90% organic ingredients

We’re big fans of organic agriculture. To sum up our views, we’re sharing a thought from Ode Magazine:

“What do the terms “organic apples” and “social entrepreneurs” have in common? Both are pleonasms; they contain unnecessary repetition.”

Right on – food should be organic and business should be responsible, by default. Our operating philosophy is grounded in a commitment to have a positive environmental and social impact while succeeding in business. Of course, this is an ongoing journey and we’re in it for the long haul.

As part of this commitment, we seek to offer delicious, high-quality, sustainable produced food, beer and other beverages. We use over 90% Certified Organic ingredients in our beers, including locally-grown organic hops, and source locally-produced and organic foods for our menu as much as possible.

In case you’re curious how the certified organic process works, there are a several organic certifiers, which must all be approved by the United States Department of Agriculture, otherwise know as the USDA. The UDSA oversees the National Organic Program, including the USDA Organic labeling program. One certifier approved by this program, located in our home state, is Oregon Tilth. This ensures integrity across the system, delivering the best for you, farmers and the planet.

Organic purchasing is just aspect of our broader mission toward sustainability. In everything we do, we work to be mindful about our impact and do better. It’s an ongoing process and we always welcome your ideas!

We’re Honored: Oregon’s Best Green Companies to Work For

We’re excited and grateful that Oregon Business magazine recently named us among the Best Green Companies to Work for in Oregon. What an honor! We really strive to do the best for our people and the planet and hope to inspire others while continuing to learn what we can do better.

Here’s the link to the entire list of The Green List for 2010Oregon’s Best Green Companies To Work For. We’re humbled to be included among so many great companies!

Congratulations to everyone who’s listed. One of our wonderful colleagues and purveyors right down the road, Rogue Creamery, also garnered recognition for their great efforts.

It’s motivating and inspiring to know so many are dedicated to better ways of doing business. Let’s keep it up!