The rise of microbrewing has also brought the heightened consciousness of sustainable energy and sustainable brewing practices in the craft beer industry. Almost every detail of creating craft beer, from the ingredients to disposing of fused materials does its part in the go-green movement. The nature of craft beer culture involves particular attention to the details that contribute to the beer-drinking experience, so it’s no wonder microbrewing has taken such care in their development.
According to craftbeer.com, many breweries have opted for organic ingredients that make a minimal impact on the environment. Not only does this mean fewer chemicals like pesticides in the beer, but the extra business they provide for organic farms helps cultivate organic farming growth. Additionally, the since craft beer breweries typically only release limited amounts of product, craft beer companies don’t need to resort to mass-produced ingredients. Instead, some breweries are turning to the community for sourcing, which supports local businesses while eliminating the negative environmental impact of transporting goods across the country.
Sustainable Business Oregon states that $45 million in organic beer was sold in 2009. The growing amount of health-conscious consumers are consistently looking for words like “organic” and “no additives” on printed labels. The trend of clean labels certainly contributes to the wealth of sales organic breweries are experiencing.
Many craft breweries are finding innovative ways to recycle the spent grain left over after brewing. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, brewers are able to send their spent grain to farms to be used as animal feed. This way, breweries avoid adding more dump to landfills and farmers receive inexpensive food for their animals.
Some breweries are also using leftover ingredients like spent grain as an energy source. National Geographic explains that a tool for turning garbage into energy has been around for about 30 years; it’s called the anaerobic methane digester. Craft beer companies are using these machines in their breweries to convert the massive amounts of spent grain into energy for daily operations. According to Waste360, one such company is California’s Devil’s Canyon Brewery, which has won awards for its conservation efforts. New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado is another craft beer company that uses these anaerobic methane digesters, but this company pulls its energy from water waste instead of just spent grains.
Conservation Magazine shines a special light on New Belgium Brewery for their other sustainability efforts. The brewery hosts solar panels on its roof and reuses the steam as a heat source in the brewing process. New Belgium follows in the path of the even larger craft brewery, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. Sierra Nevada implements conservation efforts especially in their shipments of product. Seventy percent of their beer is delivered via train, which is 50 percent more energy efficient than using trucks because trains are less likely to get damaged, use less friction and has a more efficient engine. Like many other craft breweries, Sierra Nevada repurposes their spent grain for cattle feed.