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'Shiloh IPA' Memorializes Conservationist

At Sky High Brewing in Corvallis a beer called Shiloh IPA is nearly always sold out. Perhaps its popularity stems from its namesake, Shiloh Sundstrom, a native of Deadwood, Oregon, student and conservationist who was killed in a hit-and-run last November. Charges were not filed in the case.

Sky High Brewing in Corvallis created Shiloh IPA in Sundstrom’s honor.

Shortly after Sundstrom’s passing at the age of 34, a group of his friends and fellow graduate students collaborated with Oregon State University and geography professor Hannah Gosnell, Sundstrom’s academic advisor, to form a memorial fund which will assist future graduate students doing research and outreach in geography and forest ecosystems and society.

To help the memorial reach its $25,000 goal, Gosnell asked Sky High Brewing co-owner Scott McFarland to brew a beer in Sundstrom’s name with some of the proceeds going towards the Shiloh Sundstrom Memorial Fund. 

A few months later, Shiloh IPA debuted on St. Patrick’s Day and so far the beer is “selling like hotcakes,” McFarland says. 

In its description, Sky High Brewing calls the IPA “hoppy, playful and adventurous.”

On the label of the 6.5 percent ABV and 80 IBU beer is a photo of Sundstrom playfully posing with an axe over his left shoulder, a cigar resting in his mouth, and a hard hat on top of his brown hair.

Throughout his life, Sundstrom wore quite a few hats. He was working on his Ph.D. in geography after having earned his masters in forestry from OSU. He was also a teaching assistant for the geography department, a program director and primary researcher at the Siuslaw Institute, an organization founded by his father, as well as a rancher on Rock Creek Canyon in Deadwood in the Coast Range west of Eugene.

 Outside of the U.S., Sundstrom was an avid researcher of pastoralism (livestock herding) in Kenya, where he often traveled. While studying at OSU, Sundstrom pursued his work in observing, researching and speaking with Maasai pastoralists. Sundstrom took his background in ranching and his conservation work at the Siuslaw Institute to Kenya. 

Sundstrom’s approach to his research and working with Maasai peoples was very much about solutions, Gosnell says. He was “really interested in finding that sweet spot in protecting the environment and allowing for rural pastoral livelihood,” Gosnell says. 

Speaking on the Senate floor March 9, Sen. Ron Wyden said of Sundstrom, “He had the rare ability to take his research out of the classroom and work to implement positive change in the broader world.”

In Sundstrom’s community at OSU, his father Johnny Sundstrom remembers someone at the OSU College of Forestry saying that if a person in the forestry school only had one friend in the world, it would have been Shiloh.

Among his family, Shiloh IPA has been well received and appreciated.

“It makes people feel good just knowing about it,” Johnny Sundstrom says. “It’s such a unique kind of honor. I don’t know of any [other] beers that I drink or see that are named in memorial for somebody. And I think it was just an incredibly creative idea.”

Johnny Sundstrom says that while Shiloh enjoyed beer, he often couldn’t afford the highest quality on a graduate student’s budget.

“When he had the opportunity, he liked quality beer, and this beer is a very high quality,” Johnny Sundstrom adds. “He would have loved it. Everybody that knew him, when they hear about the beer and they see the label, it’s a very uplifting feeling to know that he is being remembered in this very fun way. He was a fun guy.”  

Aside from aiding the memorial fund in reaching its $25,000 goal, Shiloh IPA has also brought friends and family members of Sundstrom together, celebrating his life. 

“I felt like I kind of got to know somebody I didn’t know because I brewed this beer in his honor,” McFarland says. “I think beer brings people together, and I think it might have been part of the process to help people heal and go forward.”

Sky High Brewing is located at 160 N.W. Jackson Avenue in Corvallis. To learn more about the Shiloh Sundstrom Memorial Fund, visit osufoundation.org.