GRAND RAPIDS — Last week, Brewery Vivant and Rockford Brewing announced they have joined with 22 other breweries across America in signing the Climate Declaration, a business call to action that urges federal and state policymakers to seize the economic opportunity of addressing climate change.

“Climate change is going to continue to impact our industry and our world,” said Kris Spaulding of Brewery Vivant. “I think it is best to work towards solutions now rather than waiting for more catastrophic events to finally lead to change happening. I like that the declaration challenges businesses to innovate and work towards solutions rather wait and see what someone else will do.”

The beer industry faces multiple climate change impacts. Hops and grain are definitely being impacted by climate change. The majority of beer ingredients still comes from the Plains states and West Coast where the issues are more prevalent than here in the Midwest.

While Michigan brewers are lucky to have the Great Lakes insulate them from the water shortages that are happening out West, it’s only a matter of time until that changes either through mass migration to the Midwest or through other regions continuing to try to siphon off water through pipelines.

Brewery Vivant and Rockford Brewing see their role as a business in a bigger picture scenario and realize that though they don’t have the same severity of these issues as others, they want to do their part to lessen their negative impact.

The brewing industry is taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, use clean energy, and invest in new technologies that will create jobs and strengthen our economy. Breweries are increasingly looking to source their energy from clean, renewable sources. Many are purchasing or installing wind or solar power. Some are capturing the methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from waste to power their operations.

Others are finding ways to conserve energy by making their buildings more energy efficient. Rockford Brewing runs LED lights throughout its pub and operates hands-free bathroom appliances to reduce unnecessary water use. The brewery also captures the water (and the heat) from heat exchanger into their Hot Liquor Tank, which is used for the next batch of beer.

Brewery Vivant, operating in the country’s first LEED certified commercial production brewery, also looks for ways to reduce its environmental impact: from high efficiency lights, motion sensors, and programmable thermostats, to buying 100 percent renewable energy and tracking and disclosing their greenhouse gas emissions.

The beer brewing industry is a major economic driver in America, with over 2,800 breweries producing $246.5 billion in economic output in 2012. Directly and indirectly, the beer industry creates over 2 million American jobs. Every brewery job creates 45 direct jobs in agriculture, transportation, distributing, business, packaging, machinery, and retail. Collectively this industry’s daily choices have a resounding impact on the world around us.

Both of this week’s reviews were lovingly produced at the hand of brewer Trevor Klimak and the team at the Paw Paw Brewing Company. Klimak is a former Big Rapids resident, and graduated from Big Rapids High School.

He has made quite a name for himself in the brewing world, and Paw Paw is turning out some exceptional beer including:

CITRA MELON PAW PAW BREWING CO. PAW PAW

Citra Melon is an American Pale Ale that was simply a joy to sip.

This wonderful brew poured a little cloudy and offered up a goodly head of foam which really lent itself to the scenting process.

(When pouring beer correctly, DON’T make every effort not to raise a head. A good head of foam is really an important part of the experience.)

The scent of Citra was delicious - just mouth watering. It is certainly rich and hoppy with the aroma of the citra hops - whence comes it’s name - quite prominent. It is very, very fruity in the first sniff, and this carries through.

The first wash proves the nose true. Citra is fruity and hoppy, but by no means is it overpoweringly so. Definitely not cloying. There is the crisp refreshing taste of pale ales with enough balance to make it truly an American version of the same.

A great, crisp, clear and zesty flavor ticket will certainly make Citra a regular standard on the Crees deck this summer. At 4.8 percent ABV, this will be a great hot day offering.

If you lean malty rather than hoppy, this may not be your cup of tea, but I - a declared stout lover - found this brew to be exciting and just jam-packed with satisfying taste and flavor.

HIGHLY recommended.

BLACK RIVER OATMEAL STOUT PAW PAW BREWING CO. PAW PAW

And then there was Paw Paw’s Oatmeal Stout ...

Sigh.

Gosh. This. Was. Good.

Black River pours dark and mysterious with a deep creamy head of foam that is so, so inviting - but is short lived, (as should be expected.)

There is a rich blast of well-selected oats; a firm base of caramel and chocolate: and a defined aroma of carefully roasted malts.

Then ... the first sip.

Black River is simply an “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh ...” stout.

First wash carries over the scenting process and rewards tasters with rich maltiness, dark chocolate tones, a good blast of coffee nib-ishness. (I’m going to copyright that word!)

There is just a very, very subtle hint of booziness, which is surprising considering Black River is actually light on the ABV (5.8 percent.) On second thought, maybe this is a bit of bite from the chocolate. Hmmm ...you tell me! This brew is so, so good. There are obviously good people doing great things at Paw Paw.

Black River is smooth, moderately creamy, and ever so well balanced.

The Paw Paw offering is not as demonstrative as many oatmeal stouts, but that can only be marked up in its favor. I absolutely recommend this brew, and suggest that if you’re just thinking about journeying into the world of stouts - this would very well be a great introduction to the genre.

Keep up the great work, team!