When perched on a bar stool in your favorite local watering hole, you may not be thinking of the carbon footprint of the pint before you. Familiarize yourself with these five standout breweries that are doing their part to build a sustainable future.
New Belgium brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado, has long been a favorite of ours, especially Fat Tire and the seasonal Somersault. These exceptionally tasty brews are crafted with sustainability in mind. The company publishes a Sustainability Report with updates on its progress in environmental stewardship. New Belgium takes a holistic approach that considers everything from water intensity and waste diversion to energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. From a closed-loop, power generation system fed by waste water to an array of photovoltaic panels that generate electricity, this cycling-centric company is working on all fronts to make greener beer and cultivate a healthier community.
Conservation and green energy sourcing rank high on Odell’s sustainability checklist. This brewery, also located in Fort Collins, Colorado, invested heavily in alternative energy and energy efficiency with delightful results. Solar panels generate approximately 25% of the brewery’s overall power demand, and wind power development purchased through its electricity supplier takes care of the rest. Odell even uses biodiesel-powered delivery trucks. Solar tubes and compact T5 and T8 fluorescent bulbs light the brewery and offices. The brewery uses fans to cool inside during the summer months and a smart A/C system balances the climate of the offices.
This impressive Grand Rapids, Michigan, operation was the first commercial microbrewery in the U.S. to be LEED certified, but Brewery Vivant doesn’t end its sustainability mission there. In 2011, the brewery reported 48.8% of expenses were paid to locally owned and operated businesses, including 21% of its grain sourced within 250 miles. Brewery Vivant also donates its spent grain to feed cattle at a local ranch. The brewery’s altruism didn’t end with cows. It donated 12.5% of its profits to local charities. On the energy front, Brewery Vivant offset 893,000 kWh with renewable energy credits over its first two years of existence and reduced water consumption by 40%, recycled 667 cubic feet of material and composted 23.4 tons of waste over the course of 2011.
Magic Hat Brewing Company in South Burlington, Vermont, is one wild place. Magic Hat’s imaginative culture oozes from every corner as you tour this brewery and sample imperial brews from the Humdinger seasonal series or year-round staples like #9 or Circus Boy. However, wacky as this brewery is, its creativity is not bound by bottles. Magic Hat takes advantage of Vermont’s chilly winter climate and uses outside winter air to supplement its cooler and save on energy. Magic Hat Brewery also found ways to reuse rinse water and eliminate the need for harsh chemicals when it comes to keeping its fermentation tanks sparklingly clean.
Sierra Nevada, in Chico, California, doesn’t kid around when it comes to greening its brewery. Its efforts have been recognized on the state level since 2005. Currently, solar panels supply 20% of its energy needs and hydrogen fuel cells supply another 40%. Conserving energy through efficiency measures is another top priority at Sierra Nevada. It also reuses, recycles or composts more than 99% of its solid waste. The brewery even recycles CO2 for carbonation back into the brewery instead of purchasing CO2 and shipping it. Sierra Nevada converts 100% of its waste vegetable oil into biodiesel for use in its truck fleet.