Submerged at the entrance to Buzzards Bay, off the south coast of Massachusetts near Cuttyhunk Island, is the Sow and Pigs Reef, a collection of rocks that juts just above water. The cluster reminds sailors of sows suckling their young, which is how the rocks were named. It’s a great spot to catch striped bass.
Buzzards Bay Brewing sits across the bay, at the end of a crushed seashell driveway, in Westport. Owner Bill Russell grew up nearby, spending summers fishing and sailing on the water that defines so much about the area. He is worried that Buzzards Bay faces threats of nitrogen pollution from septic systems and wastewaster, as well as oil spills. Marc Bellanger of the nonprofit Buzzards Bay Coalition is worried too.
This summer, the coalition and the brewery are teaming up to raise money for cleaner waters. Buzzards Bay Brewing recently released Sow & Pigs, a beer the brewery describes as a “shallow-bodied Kolsch-style ale.” Says Russell, “Marc and the coalition wanted to do a lighter colored, lightly hopped beer.” He thought about a lager; he thinks the best beer Buzzards Bay ever produced was the Dortmunder-style lager the brewery retired in 2006. But he and head brewer Harry Smith ultimately settled on a Kolsch, a style well-suited to summer. Russell says the beer has a light malt sweetness “lightly kissed” by the Cascade hops. The stats — 4.1 percent alcohol by volume, a minuscule nine international bitterness units — back up that description.
In the glass, Sow & Pigs flashes yellow and white, like the tips of the reeds along the shoreline. The beer smells fresh, lemony. It tastes bready but not chewy, the rare malt-forward beer that drinks light as a feather. This is decidedly a summer beer, something to be enjoyed on a dock or in a boat.
Buzzards Bay is donating 50 percent of Sow profits to the coalition. In turn, the environmental organization will continue to work toward cleaner water. “The bay needs all of us to appreciate how special it is and to do our part to protect it,” says Bellanger. “The more people who care about the bay, the better its health will be in the future.” To get to know the area, Bellanger recommends kayaking down the Westport River or visiting Horseneck Beach.
Sow & Pigs is available at the Buzzards Bay Brewing tap room, Westport, 508-636-2288, City Feed and Supply, Jamaica Plain, 617- 524-1700, and Freitas Package Store, New Bedford, 508-997-9602, or go to www.savebuzzards