While advances in technology have had a huge impact on the beer industry, brewing beer continues to be a resource-intense process that generates a lot of waste. Thankfully, environmental responsibility has become more popular in recent years, and many breweries are now working on developing more eco-friendly and sustainable practices.
As you pour yourself a cold one this Earth Day, take some time to learn about five key ways the brewing industry is utilizing sustainable and earth-friendly practices to help reduce their environmental footprint.
Channeling Solar Power
Using solar power is one way some breweries reduce their environmental footprint and create a more sustainable brewing process. MillerCoors, the company that makes the Miller, Coors, Blue Moon, and Molson brands, has the world’s largest brewery solar power system with a 3.2 MW solar capacity. That’s enough power to provide electricity to five houses for an entire month! The second largest is Sierra Nevada Brewing with 2.6 MW of solar power, making up almost 25% of their electricity use.
Investing in Sustainable Packaging
As more breweries become interested in increasing their ecological practices, companies are switching their packaging from glass bottles to aluminum cans. Aluminum cans are almost infinitely recyclable and are very cost-efficient to reuse when compared to recycling plastics or glass. Additionally, cans are the most effective way to protect beer from damaging elements like light and air.
Encouraging consumers to purchase reusable growlers to take home beer is another sustainable practice that helps breweries cut back on packaging waste.
Sourcing Locally-Raised and Grown Products
Not only is using locally grown hops trendy, but local sourcing also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions since the products will be shipped a shorter distance. Additionally, for breweries that purchase fruit and vegetables to flavor their beer, local produce doesn’t have to be harvested under-ripe to survive shipping, so it is extra fresh and flavorful. Buying nearby also funnels money back into the community and supports the local business ecosystem.
Repurposing Bourbon Barrels for Beer
When it comes to making bourbon, distilleries can only use new barrels for the aging process. Reused oak barrels do not lend as much flavor or coloring to the bourbon as new barrels. However, one 80-year-old oak tree only has enough wood to make two bourbon barrels, meaning that using each barrel only once is a highly resource-intense process.
One way the beer industry reduces waste while continuing to create quality beverages is by repurposing those used bourbon barrels in their brewing process. Utilizing a by-product of another industry reduces waste, helps decrease deforestation, and makes truly delicious stouts and ales.
Expanding the Life of Spent Grains
Spent grains are one of the most significant by-products of the brewing industry. Even after they’ve been used for brewing, these grains remain edible and retain some of their original sugars, fiber, vitamins, and proteins. Many breweries support local farmers by selling or giving away their spent grains for use as compost or animal feed. Other breweries recycle their grains to make consumables like flour, soda bread, or even dog treats.
On Sale This Week in Our Stores: Guinness
Earth-friendly practices in the brewing industry are helping to make the world a greener place. For example, Diageo, the company behind Guinness beer, is actively working to reduce their water usage and carbon footprint. So, sit back, relax, and sip that Guinness guilt-free this Earth Day. Even better, it’s on sale this week in our stores.
The top 10 solar powered American craft beers. (2016, July). Solar Power: Solar Resource Guide. Retrieved from https://bill-solar.squarespace.com/cheers-to-sun-powered-beer-top-10-solar-powered-breweries