Abby’s Environment Column: Environmentally-Friendly Brews

By Abby VolkmannStaff Writer

Environmentally-friendly brews

It’s safe to say that most of us enjoy a good beer regardless of our stance on environmental issues. So for those of us who care about the planet in peril, it’s great to see some of our nation’s breweries incorporate sustainable features into the way they brew beer. Sustainable practices are becoming the industry standard as breweries search for ways to appeal to conscientious consumers by reducing their impact on the environment.

The Environmental Protection Agency named Sierra Nevada Brewing Company from Chico, California the “2010 Green Business of the Year,” as the brewery significantly reduced their energy consumption while increasing production. Sierra Nevada utilized environmentally-friendly energy by covering its parking lots and rooftops with solar panels, a project that is now one of the country’s largest privately-owned solar installations. The company supplements this energy with four hydrogen fuel cells which use heat recovery systems to minimize energy waste. Additionally, the brewery developed an onsite closed-loop water treatment plant that processes and purifies water to reduce the demand on local groundwater reservoirs known as aquifers.

Full Sail Brewing Company based in Hood River, Oregon has changed the way they brew beer to reduce the amount of waste and pollution deposited into the Columbia River and around Mt. Hood. They operate their own water treatment plant and implemented a water recovery system in the brewhouse which recaptures hot water for reuse. This system reduces Full Sail’s water consumption by almost 3.1 million gallons per year. Full Sail is also committed to recycling. Everything from office paper to packaging to wooden pallets is recycled. The spent grain and yeast leftovers from the brewing process are even sold back to farmers for cattle feed, an important step towards sustainability in one of the country’s most environmentally noxious industries: meat production.

It’s great to know you can enjoy a tasty brew while protecting the environment. Here are a few other environmentally-friendly breweries to check out: New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado; Big Fish Brewing Company in Olympia, Washington; and The Alaskan Brewing Company in Juneau, Alaska.