America’s favorite beverage has gone green. Just like any other business, brewery construction and operation often times has a large carbon footprint; building materials and energy use are just the tip of the iceberg. With this impact in mind, many breweries have become very environmentally friendly in construction and operation, creating an environmentally conscious trend in beer companies. Beer has made an interesting and exciting green revolution.
Beer has become an extremely popular beverage to experiment with. Craft breweries can now be found everywhere from Kansas to New York, as well as coast to coast. There is a whole spectrum of beer flavors such as salted caramel stouts, pumpkin brews and marshmallow ales. With this surge in popularity comes demand and opportunity for new breweries and current breweries wishing to expand their reach. Building materials can be expensive in monetary and carbon footprint terms. Transporting materials uses oil which contributes to air pollution, using energy of the area puts a larger burden on energy outputs, and creating new retail space takes away from natural ecosystems of the area.
Carbon footprint refers to “the total sets of greenhouse gas emission caused by an organization, event, product or person.” Every brewery has a carbon footprint, just as every person has one. A low carbon footprint is ideal; a low footprint ensures that all operations coexist with nature on a level that is minimally disruptive.
Many craft breweries understand that building and operation impacts are often intense, to avoid this issue breweries look to alternative building and brewing methods. One of the pioneer breweries to lessen its carbon footprint is Mother Earth Brewing in Kingston, North Carolina. Mother Earth Brewing won level Gold for its efforts from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) in 2013, which is one level away from the highest honor. The brewery attempts to have the smallest carbon footprint possible, it has installed solar panels, eco-flush toilets and environmentally friendly carpeting. Mother Earth Brewing is an excellent example of beer that is pioneering the green revolution.
Breweries that exist in the heart of the United States are just as unique as those in coastal states, and many are just as environmentally friendly. Backpocket Brewing in Coralville, Iowa, has a low evaporation boiler which strictly regulates brewing temperatures in order to maximize energy efficiency. Rhode Island has an honorable mention; Coastal Extreme Brewing Company distills its own spirits as well as maximizes energy savings through water conservation. These adaptations help the brewery save energy that would be used on transportation by operating a distillery adjacent to the brewery and of course minimize water waste.
A carbon footprint does not come from strictly building or operations. Growing anything organically is not only a trend; organic growing is a permanent part of the world’s food future. Beer is no exception to the rule that organically grown is better for the environment and people. Conventional growing methods, or those that advocate the use of pesticides and herbicides, are statistically proven to be detrimental to the environment. Organically grown hops do not contribute to land erosion, toxicity in humans or environmental poisoning. Many breweries, such as Bison Brewing in Berkeley, California and Fish Brewing Company in Olympia, Washington have adopted organic growing methods for the health of people and the planet.
Beer is a beverage suited for many occasions, including celebratory, social and relaxation. Its popularity has afforded it a place in most cities around the country. The growth of craft brewers around the country is nothing to scoff at; the movement seems to be growing and shows no sign of stopping. The green revolution of breweries is advancing hand in hand with the popularity of craft beer, ensuring that the future of beer is just as environmentally friendly as it is unique.
By Courtney Heitter