Feather Falls Casino in Northern California Using Craft Beer to Fund Hopes and Dreams
The Feather Falls Casino, Lodge, and Brewery believe suds can help educate the next generation of tribal leaders.
Owned and operated by the Mooretown Rancheria of Maidu Indians, a federally recognized Native American tribe in Northern California’s Butte County, Feather Falls has unveiled a new scholarship initiative that will be funded through beer sales.
The newest brew from Feather Falls Brewing Company is “Big Sipa,” a session India pale ale (IPA) that clocks in at 4.8% alcohol by volume (ABV) with 18 International Bitterness Units (IBUs). Feather Falls says a portion of each sale of “Big Sipa” will go towards funding a higher education scholarship program that will be available for Native American students in Butte County.
The Feather Falls Casino, Lodge, and Brewery are located on the tribe’s sovereign land in Oroville, about 60 miles north of Sacramento and 90 miles west of Reno. The tribal casino features about 1,000 slot machines and a dozen blackjack tables. The lodge and brewery are located on the same property as the casino.
Drinking for College
Beer and college go hand-in-hand for many undergrads. Now, beer consumers can feel their drinking is doing some good at Feather Falls.
The tribe unveiled “Big Sipa” on September 23 to coincide with “Native American Day.” Celebrated annually on the fourth Friday of September, the day honors Native American traditions and cultures.
Feather Falls Brewery plans to roll out the special brew to restaurants, bars, and distributors across Northern California in the coming weeks. A portion of all sales goes towards the tribal scholarship program. The Mooretown Rancheria Tribal Council will select a male and female student scholarship recipient each year.
Feather Falls brewmaster James Ponder says “Big Sipa” is unique in the session IPA category in that the brew is light on bitterness — something typically involved in an IPA’s flavor profile. Ponder says the bitterness of “Big Sipa” was removed during the brewing process, but retained a bold hop flavor.
It’s more palatable. It shows that IPAs aren’t a one-trick pony that have to be super bitter. It’s something you want to drink a little more of,” Ponder told Action News Now.
Feather Falls did not provide any forecast as to just how much scholarship money it hopes to raise through the casino brew’s sales. A pint of “Big Sipa” goes for just $4.50 ($3 during happy hours) at the Feather Falls Casino.
California Casinos Support Education
California does not have commercial casinos. Instead, tribes are the only entities in the state that legally operate slot machines and house-banked card games like blackjack, craps, and roulette.
The tribes regularly use their gaming proceeds to support higher education. Along with the Feather Falls Casino setting aside some of its alcohol sales for scholarships, another California gaming tribe — a much larger one — in 2020 donated $15 million to UCLA Law.
The Graton Rancheria Tribe, which owns and operates the Graton Resort & Casino about 40 miles north of San Francisco, made the considerable donation to provide scholarships for law students interested in pursuing Native American legal studies.
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