PR/Boston, MA (September, 2023)Portico Brewing and the Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) have teamed up to promote efforts toward a healthier and more resilient Charles River through the release of Dam Free Ale, a collaboration beer intended to highlight restoration efforts of the iconic waterway while savoring the final weeks of summer.

For more than 400 years the Charles River has been altered, controlled, and dammed to bend to the will of industry and development. While a small number of them are still of value today, the majority of the more than 100 dams located along the river and its tributaries are not.

“Removing functionless barriers like Watertown Dam offers the opportunity to acknowledge the rights of present-day Nipmuc, Massachusett, and Wampanoag people, revive migratory fish populations, restore the river ecosystem, and build climate resilience,” says CRWA Executive Director Emily Norton. “When you raise a glass of Dam Free Ale at Portico Brewing, you support a free-flowing Charles River for future generations.”

The consequences are numerous––today the river suffers impaired water quality, loss of biodiversity, invasive species growth, and harmful cyanobacteria blooms, all of which are exacerbated by nineteen dams that interrupt the flow of the Charles. With climate change bringing more frequent and severe storm events, outdated mill dams are in dire need of costly repairs and are increasingly susceptible to failure, putting people and property at risk.

“We are proud to partner with Portico on one of their ‘environmental handprint’ initiatives,” says CRWA Development Manager Emily Reiling. “We look forward to the opportunity to bring the community together to rally around dam removal and learn more about our work for a clean, resilient Charles River.”

One of the oldest watershed organizations in the country, CRWA was founded in 1965 by concerned citizens who did not accept the conventional wisdom that the Charles could not be cleaned up. The organization has guided the transformation of our river from the “Dirty Water” of the past–––rife with industrial pollution, sewage, trash, and even cars––to the Charles River we know and love today, one of the cleanest, most celebrated urban rivers in the country.

Today, the Charles is once again a living river––but the work is far from over. New challenges have emerged that threaten to undermine our progress; climate change, stormwater pollution, and addressing environmental injustice. But the organization is rising to meet the moment––taking a regional approach to climate solutions, working with nature rather than against it, and centering environmental justice to ensure the collective flourishing of our watershed and all who call it home.

Dam Free Ale, a refreshing and flavorful German style wheat beer, is a special release and will only be available on draught at Portico’s taproom located at 101 South Street on the Cambridge-Somerville line while supplies last. A portion of the proceeds from beer sales will be donated to CRWA and its ongoing river restoration efforts. A release event will be held at Portico Brewing on Friday, September 8 starting at 6:00 PM to celebrate CRWA’s ongoing work to restore a clean, resilient Charles River for future generations. The event will feature a talk about long-term trends in water quality, as well as challenges and progress toward a swimmable Charles, all while sipping brews and learning how you can get involved.


About the Charles River Watershed Association 

CRWA’s mission is to protect, restore, and enhance the Charles River and its watershed through science, advocacy, and the law. CRWA develops science-based strategies to increase resilience, protect public health, and promote environmental equity as we confront a changing climate.


About Portico Brewing

Portico Brewing is inspired by architecture and design and its beers are made for everyone to enjoy. It brews with classic ingredients and careful technique while also rethinking traditional styles. Formerly a contract brand, Portico debuted its own brewery and community focused taproom near the Somerville-Cambridge line in Massachusetts in spring of 2023. Committed to environmental values, it’s part of the movement that believes in business for good.

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