Brewing is an inherent energy- and water-intensive process, yet sustainability hasn’t always been a focus for beer breweries. But that is changing.
Breweries that prioritize sustainability often realize financial benefits as well as environmental ones. This is especially true when they work with local farmers to help them adopt sustainable agricultural practices.
Whether brewing with local ingredients or reducing their carbon footprint, craft beer companies strive to prioritize sustainability. This is especially true for the 9,000 small and medium-sized breweries operating in the United States today.
Breweries are not only trying to reduce their energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions, but they also have a responsibility to ensure clean water is available to all of their consumers. This includes ensuring they are not consuming too much water from their local communities or using too many chemicals in their production processes. Visit craft beer shops.
Water plays a huge role in the brewing process, making up 95% of a single barrel of beer. Therefore, breweries must ensure that the water they use is safe to drink and can be recycled when necessary. This is particularly important for small and medium-sized breweries as it can be difficult to find sustainable water sources for their operations. Thankfully, the majority of beer consumers are willing to pay a premium for sustainable products.
The craft beer industry has a lot of work to do on the sustainability front. Brewing is an extremely resource-intensive process, requiring tons of energy for the heat used in production and to keep kegs chilled afterward. Plus, the waste generated by brewing (like spent grain and byproducts) often goes unrecycled or ends up in landfills.
Many breweries have made great strides in decreasing their energy use and reducing the amount of water they consume. But a big hurdle remains: getting consumers on board with eco-friendly beer.
The good news is that there are a number of ways for smaller breweries to get in on the sustainability action without spending too much. The first step is empowering brewery staff to make small changes. From there, breweries can prioritize the planet in their operations and in their marketing to environmentally conscious customers.
Brewing is an energy-intensive process that produces a lot of carbon dioxide. The industry is now looking for ways to shrink their footprints.
Many craft breweries are already working on this. For example, Half Hours on Earth is a small, two-person operation that makes fruity sours and other beers in Huron County. The brewery uses an electric vehicle to deliver beer locally and is Canada’s first carbon-neutral brewery.
Other breweries are using renewable energy sources and repurposing waste materials. And some are starting to track metrics like their water-to-beer ratio and energy usage, a move that can help them identify areas for improvement.
As the industry evolves, sustainability will become even more important to craft breweries. This is because it helps them align with the values that set them apart from large-scale breweries — experimentation, authenticity, and independence that stem from a community-based macro culture. It will also allow them to remain competitive in a market where more consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable beer, according to a 2018 study from Indiana University.
For breweries to be sustainable, they must work with farmers to reduce their carbon footprint. Matron Fine Beer in Bloomfield, Ontario for example, makes a point to use local ingredients in their beers to support local agriculture and cut down on shipping emissions. Farm breweries like this take it one step further by growing some of their own ingredients on-site, such as hops or botanicals.
Waste reduction is another key aspect of sustainability in craft beer. Using recycled materials, composting organic material and separating recyclables all help reduce waste. Breweries can also take the step of incorporating circular economy business practices into their operations by donating spent grains to livestock feed, such as Anderson Valley and Ninkasi.
It is also important to track brewery metrics like water-to-beer ratio, energy and emissions consumption, and the number of byproducts that go unrecycled. These indicators help identify areas of improvement and highlight a brewery’s commitment to sustainability.