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8 ways the beer you drink can help the environment

Mar 10, 2015 Comments (0) 8 ways the beer you drink can help the environment

Ninkasi joined 23 other breweries in signing the Brewery Climate Declaration to urge policymakers to seize the economic opportunity of addressing climate change. We are using this declaration to highlight the many risks and opportunities that the beer industry faces due to climate change, including its impact on hop farms and clean water. Since sustainability is one of our biggest priorities as a brewery, it was an easy decision to sign the declaration. From upcycling spent grain, to sourcing local ingredients and materials, to conserving water, we put a lot of effort into ensuring our environmental footprint stays small as we continue to produce more beer. 

Ceres, the nonprofit organization responsible for helping businesses rally behind this cause, wrote a guest post to help all of you appreciate how you can support climate action-just by drinking the right beer!

The beer-drinker’s holiday, St. Paddy’s, is just around the corner.  And you should feel good about sitting down for a cold one because – aside from creating delicious beers – a group of American breweries are also fighting climate change.

24 American breweries have signed on to a national Climate Declaration, calling for strong climate and energy policies in Washington. Here are 8 ways some of these breweries are innovating to reduce their environmental impact – and give us great tasting beer at the same time.

1. Using renewable energy. Allagash Brewery, Brewery Vivant, Deschutes Brewery, Odell Brewing, Redhook & Widmer Brothers are all using 100% renewable energy to generate electricity. New Belgium Brewing and Ninkasi Brewing have installed on-site solar arrays, and Kona Brewing Company gets 50% of its electricity with roof-top solar.


Odell Brewing has installed rooftop solar panels that generate renewable energy for their brewing process.

2. Cutting energy use by recycling steam. Fremont Brewing and Odell Brewing are using steam from the brewing process to heat the next brew and lower their carbon footprints.

3. Sourcing local, organic ingredients. Many breweries are opting for local, organic ingredients when crafting their brews.

4. Installing efficient lighting. Breweries like Widmer Brothers Brewing have installed high-efficient lighting systems with occupancy and daylight sensors to reduce their energy use.


Efficient T5 lighting systems with occupant and daylight sensors were recently installed at the Widmer Brothers Brewery. The brewery has reduced its energy use by 12% in 2014, to just 9.2 kWhs per barrel of beer produced. Photo credit: Widmer Brothers Brewing.

5. Capturing methane. New Belgium Brewery is capturing methane – which is a potent greenhouse gas if released as waste – and using it to generate electricity.


New Belgium Brewing’s wastewater treatment bubble captures methane, the potent greenhouse gas produced from the treatment process, which is then used to provide 15% of the brewery’s electricity needs. Photo credit: New Belgium Brewery.

6. Saving water. Beer’s main ingredient is clean fresh water. Breweries are increasing their water efficiency, especially in areas struggling with drought.

7. Cutting transportation emissions. Many breweries are cutting their transportation footprints by reducing packaging and choosing cans, which lighten the load. Guinness has partnered with the US EPA Smartways program that works with transportation carriers to reduce carbon emissions through better logistics.

8. Reusing spent grain. Breweries like The Alchemist are partnering with local farmers to reuse the spent grain from the brewing process as compost or to feed livestock.

The Alchemist lead brewer Jim Conroy, 40, of Waterbury, VT moves a barrel of mash used to make Heady Topper. Photo credit: The Boston Globe.

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