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Keeping America Green…Brew After Brew

Submitted by on September 12, 2009 – 8:31 AMNo Comment
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Going Green has become more than the latest fad, it’s become the healthiest, too!  Individuals and companies alike have been taking steps towards bettering the environment in as many ways as possible.  Today, with all of our latest technologies and constant reminders to “reduce, reuse, recycle,” it seems like there is simply no reason not to go green.

It has become very obvious that breweries are no exception to the environmentally aware population of America and although going green has become a popular trend, breweries have been making eco-friendly choices for over 200 years.  Senior Director of Environment, Health, and Safety for Anheuser-Busch, Inc. Dale Pendleton says Anheuser-Busch has been environmentally conscious since the late 1800s when they began recycling leftover grain as cattle feed, a tradition that they continue to do today.

What makes a brewery ‘green?’ A green brewery is completely conscious of the world around them.  While producing a beer, everything from the ingredients that go into the beer to the way the beer is packaged and distributed is taken into consideration.

Julia Herz, the craft beer program director for the Brewers Association, said a brewery that considers itself green can have a variety of components. “Green is many things to many people. Green can mean producing an organic beer or being eco-friendly and reducing their emissions.”

One way that breweries can be environmentally friendly is by producing and distributing organic beers, which means that their barley and hops were grown without the use of toxic pesticides, artificial fertilizers, or chemical preservatives.  Some breweries, such as Fish Brewing Company, plan on having access to enough organic ingredients to make all beers organic.

The way that the plants are powered has also become a major concern for eco-friendly breweries.  In 1999, New Belgium Brewing Company was the first brewery to subscribe to 100 percent wind power, which may have been a risky move at first, but has proven to be very successful.  A few years later, Brooklyn Brewery followed New Belgium Brewing and in 2003 became the first company in New York City to switch to 100 percent wind-generated electricity.

se50greenOther eco-friendly ways of powering a brewery without wasting energy is through the use of solar power or renewable fuel.  Anheuser-Busch Breweries have taken it upon themselves to install alternative energy technology, which allows it to run on more than 15 percent renewable fuel.  Anheuser-Busch has also developed Bio-Energy Recovery System (BERS).  Pendleton explained that this system converts the organic substance from wastewater from the brewing process into methane gas, a renewable biofuel that is used in their boilers to offset the use of fossil fuels.

These breweries, like New Belgium Brewing Company, have received a lot of positive attention in lieu of their dedication to being eco-friendly.  Bryan Simpson, the media relations director of New Belgium Brewery, explained that while it is more expensive to run an environmentally aware brewery the “costs are quickly offset through energy savings and a loyal consumer base.”

Some breweries have even started making changes outside of their factories in an attempt to make America greener.  New Belgium Brewing Company, for example, gives each employee a bicycle after they have worked for one year.  This gift serves as a reminder of better, cleaner modes of transportation.  New Belgium Brewing also pays a bike courier to pick up bottles from local bars and restaurants to reinforce the importance of recycling.  On most brewery websites, they have a section dedicated to explaining what they do in favor of protecting the environment.  In posting this information on the web, each brewery has acknowledged how important it is to their consumers that they stay green and that their website viewers may be able to follow in their footsteps.

For hundreds of years Americans have been well aware of the damage that their lifestyles have done to the world and over time, have learned ways in which to prevent the earth from any further harm.  Breweries are no exception to this life lesson and work very hard to produce a delicious product while simultaneously maintaining an eco-friendly atmosphere.  From choosing organically grown ingredients, to powering the brewery with solar panels, to encouraging their consumers to recycle, there are many ways for a brewery to remain environmentally friendly.  That being said, with all of the obvious and not-so-obvious ways of protecting the environment, it seems that there is really no reason for breweries not to make the effort to go green.  Similarly, with all of the resources available to the general public, there’s no reason for you not to go green either!


Green Breweries

Wastewater -New Belgium Brewing (NBB), Deschutes, Sierra Nevada
Solar Energy – Anderson Valley, Stone, Sierra Nevada
Wind Energy – NBB, Uinta, Brooklyn Brewery, 4 Durango Breweries
Reusing Solids – NBB, Great Lakes Brewing (GLB)
Transportation – NBB, GLB, Uinta
Advocating – NBB, Ukiah
Encouraging Recycling – NBB, Uinta, Oskar Blues
CO2 Recovery – Alaskan, Boston Beer, Sierra Nevada
Eel River Brewery -Powered entirely from biofuel from hog plant

Other Ways on Going Green

Butte Creek-Reported to plant enough trees to offset the carbon they produce
New Belgium-Found a new use for their diatomaceous earth, hog de-wormer
Boulevard-Vine covered roof that conserves energy and roof itself
Lucky Lab Brew Pub (Oregon) – Solar Thermal System to brew it’s beer (heats 900 gallon Hot Liquor Tank)