“Sustainability is kind of in my blood at this point.”- Sipps
Less than five miles away from the city of Akron sits the suburb of Cuyahoga Falls. A small community that sits right along a portion of the 100 miles of the roaring Cuyahoga River. Parallel to the river sits Front Street, a street bustling with more than a dozen restaurants, bars and breweries that bring many visitors and locals to the area; however, along the strip contains three breweries with a deeper a connection to the Cuyahoga River. HiHo Brewing Company is one of those breweries.
“So Andrea Ireland from the National Park Service came to us and said she’s doing this water trail which actually was just as designated October 4th. So now the Cuyahoga River is a 13th state designated water trail. She’s been working on this for years and years and years. So we did this for the past year, in support of the water trail,” HiHo Brewing Co. Sustainability Officer, Jamie Sipps said.
The Cuyahoga River Brewery Trail is partnered with 17 other breweries in Northeast, Ohio, with 13 of those breweries being in Cleveland area, while five (including HiHo Brewing Co.) in the Akron area. Both the water and the brewery trail originally had been planned to open together earlier in June, but the water trail was pushed back until this month because of issues with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Sipps said.
The Cuyahoga River Brewery Trail encouraged visitors and the people of Northeast, Ohio to use the Cuyahoga River as a way of recreation during the warmer months. The reward was each breweries’ sessionable IPA that was dedicated to the trail (sessionable in this instance means the beer had to be less than 5% alcohol by volume).
“If you’re a smaller place [brewery], you can’t really go too much off your brew schedule. Then [if you want] you can collaborate and still be a part of it. Or if you’re a bigger place and you want to brew something like totally off the wall you can do that. So it was flexible, but it was consistent. Kind of the draw was to try each locations different IPA because they were all different. So that was kind of the draw in June and we did that until everybody ran out,” Sipps said.
The brewery trail is just another way the HiHo Brewing Co. is getting involved with its community. HiHo Brewing Company has always had roots for sustainability and for the local environment before the company opened its doors.
“ We all really like the parks around here and it’s helpful to the Glens Trail that it is right over here. But that’s kind of where Ali and Jon which would go to escape some of the build-out when they were building out here. And Ali and Jon, they started building in 2016 when they got the this building and then we open in 2017 January,” Sipps said.
Sipps explained that she enjoys her role as Sustainability Officer because her degree in Environmental Chemistry from Cleveland State University. Her position as Sustainability Officer allows her to interact with the community metro parks and tie her passions for environmental chemistry within and outside the company.
“I’m on the board for the OCBA, the sustainability subcommittee, which is Ohio Craft Brewers Association. I helped with some of the statewide stuff, but I also really, you know focus on our local stuff that we can do. One of the things we’ve done before is we partner with the metro parks. We do some fundraising towards their conservation fund and then we also do cleanups throughout the summer,” Sipps said.
Already this year Sipps says HiHo Brewing Co. has put forth efforts on their community outreach with Summit Metro Parks with three cleanups during the months of April, August and September. Sipps also explained that she supports water safety for kayakers on the river.
“ I just try to advocate for the safety of the Cuyahoga River because really there’s some spots that if you get stuck and it’s too late could really hurt yourself. Really is but over the past summer, especially we had a lot of those really high rains like it just rained and rained for days and people would get to these, you know nicer days after it had been raining and not really like thinking about how the water level… So there are a couple, you know distress calls, they had to take care of over there because of that area specifically,” Sipps said.
Sipps also emphasized how she thinks it is important for customers and visitors of HiHo Brewing Co. to understand the Cuyahoga River and how each person can benefit from the river and metro parks despite where they live.
“So I think it’s really important that people see these things [Cuyahoga River and metro parks] again, whether they know they’re going to do something with it or not, or maybe they just know somebody that might be interested. I think. It’s incredibly important and it’s you know, a lot of outdoor activity and getting people kind of out of their comfort zone a little bit, but maybe they find something they really like baby,” Sipps said.