The combination of beer and summer is as natural as hotdogs and baseball, voting and democracy. In the hyper-aware consumer culture, it's not surprising to learn that craft brewery has adopted sustainability into both their ethos and process. Beer production is energy intensive, needing a high volume of water while producing a generous amount of waste in spent grain. Most sustainable breweries focuses on alternative energy and reduction of both water usage and up-cycling the spent grain as animal feed.
What is surprising though, is that none of the breweries actively make their sustainability mission a prominent part of their brand story. It is not mentioned on their packaging or in advertisements. Depending on the brewery, you can find the info on their site, but it takes some digging.
The lack of prominence in discussing the brewery’s effort to be sustainable and socially responsible comes as a surprise. Nielson’s research shows that 66% of global consumers say they’re willing to... pay more for sustainable brands — and it is a priority with Millennials.
Why would these craft breweries invest in sustainability if it is not part of their efforts to please their customers and to attract more customers?
Seeing that most of the sustainable craft brewery are a little shy in singing their own praises, here is a list of five breweries who have done an outstanding job in cutting their carbon footprint. Remember their names, so next time you are in front of a case full of IPAs choosing between one from Portland and one from Philadelphia, try the one with a reduced carbon footprint.
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New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, CO
New Belgium Brewing is a certified B Corporation who claims to be the first wind-powered brewery in the country. They divert almost 100% of waste from landfills and with water-use reduction initiatives that have reduced per gallon water usage to 3.5 gallons. The company contributes to local Fort Collin causes and encourages biking to work. Their website has year-by-year stats on how well they are doing towards their own sustainability goals, complete with matrix.
Notable Brew: Fat Tire, Voodoo Ranger and other pale ales.
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Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY
Some might not necessarily know that Fat Tire is part of New Belgium’s line but it is impossible to miss any beer made by Brooklyn Brewery. For one thing, the logo B is prominently displayed on all of their bottles, ranging from IPA to Pale Ale to Dark Ale to porters.
Brooklyn Brewery is another wind-powered brewery, housed in a repurposed foundry. Their sustainability extends beyond the production and well into the company culture, including using compostable cups in their tasting rooms to solar panels to power their warehouse. They ship their spent grains to local farms as animal feed and partnered with Arbor Day Foundation to offset 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide with roughly 375 acres worth of CO2-converting trees planted in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley.
Notable Brews: A broad selection ranging from pale ale to IPA to Saison to darker heavier porter and stouts. There are also seasonal specials, Quarterly Experiments and Brewmaster Reserves.
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Yards Brewing Co. Philadelphia, PA
Yards Brewing Co. is another top to bottom sustainability and community-focused brewery. This Philadelphia favorite has thought of everything. The brewery is 100 percent wind-powered; its cardboard packaging is certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative; it sends its spent grain to farmers to use as livestock feed, and it collects and reuses about 2 million gallons of water in the brewery each year.
In its tasting room, Yards composts all food scraps and uses recycled materials wherever possible. The company also sponsors an event on Earth Day each year to raise awareness of the declining honeybee population, they just recently partnered with Chef Jose Garces and the Garces Foundation giving back to the community. With a hashtag #brewontoother, Yards is putting winning hearts by the pint.
Notable Brews: Philadelphia Pale Ale, Love Stout, Rival IPA
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Full Sail Brewing, Columbia River, OR
Full Sail Brewing is located in another repurposed building on the Columbia River in scenic Hood River, Oregon. While average brewery uses six to eight gallons of water to produce one gallon of beer, Full Sail has managed to reduce it’s consumption to 2.5 gallons. The brewery has been modified to cut energy use; it also sends its spent grains to local farms as feed. And 99% of its ingredients are locally sourced.
Notable Brews: Typical of craft brewery from the Pacific Northwest, a long and varied list of ales, pale ales, IPAs with a wheat beer and a stout thrown in to round out the mix.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
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Brewery Vivant, Grand Rapids, MI
Brewery Vivant’s beer has four main selections and a small selection of seasonal and limited-edition brews. It is the first LEED-certified microbrewery in the U.S. and is registered as a B Corporation. It issued sustainability reports each year as it packages its brews in cans made from recycled aluminum.
With a focus on locally sourced ingredients, 75% of Vivant’s purchases are from Michigan, with 90% coming from within 250 miles of the brewery. The company also donated 11 percent of its profits to charitable causes last year.
Notable Brew: Farm Hand (Ale), Big Red Coq (Red IPA), Undertaker (Belgium Dark Ale).