200th Oktorberfest is here. This year’s (2010) 16 day festival starts on September 18th and concludes on October 4th in Munich, Germany. It’s one of the best parties, drinking and eating event in the world – a likely candidate for your bucket list.
In it’s every day carbon reducing inquisitive way, Green Blizzard looked into the carbon footprint behind each mug and bottle of beer.
As it turns out, downing a few cold ones isn’t the most eco-friendly past time. And don’t think recycling that can or bottle is going to make up for the carbon footprint created by many of our favorite brews.
According to Treehugger, farmers spray their hops around 14 times a year with 15 different kinds of pesticides – and that’s just one ingredient. Toss in the energy consumed harvesting, the water, along with the brewing, chilling and transporting the beers, and the energy consumption adds up quickly.
The recent Green Blizzard article on life cycle assessment introduced the idea of looking at the total footprint of products and services.
Green Blizzard is not advocating abstinence, just a greater awareness for the savvy consumer along with some encouragement to support environmentally-conscious and locally brewed products. All the largest brewers have already factored in the huge transportation cost of deliverying beer to the market and have strategically placed their large breweries next to the market to shorten the distance of hauling this heavy finished product to its customers.
But have no fear, my fellow beer loving environmentalists! Organic and environmentally conscious brewing has become an international trend. This year alone, over 40 breweries will participate in the North American Organic Brewers Festival. They’re aiming to save the planet, one beer at a time.
So maybe next time you’re bellying up a bar, or bringing a 6 pack over to your friend’s house, our rolling that keg into your apartment for the big game, consider some of these greener beer options.
Standing Stone Brewing Co
Located in downtown Ashland, Oregon, Standing Stone Brewery makes a conscious effort to stay environmentally sound. This brewery installed solar panels on its roof, uses nontoxic cleaning products, and buys fresh brewing ingredients from local, organic suppliers. They pride themselves on supporting regional producers and sustainable farming methods (over 90% of the grains they use in their beer are organic).
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co
This brewery just completed construction on one of the largest private solar arrays in the United States. The solar project produces over 1.4 MW of AC power for the brewery. This, along with its 1.2 MW fuel cell plant, provides the majority of the brewery’s electricity. If you want to learn more about their on-site power consumption, they offer continuous records on their website
Brooklyn Brewer Company is the brain child of Steve Hindy and Tom Potter. They are the proud owners of the first NYC based company that runs completely on wind power. Not only are they eco-friendly, but Brooklyn Brewing has gone on to become one of the top 40 breweries in the country.
Great Lakes Brewing Co. is a Cleveland, Ohio staple. I mention them because they are the beer kings of Reduce-Reuse-Recycle. Anything considered waste is either reused somewhere else in the company or in the Cleveland community. They even run their delivery trucks on vegetable oil and have donated thousands of dollars through the Great Lakes Brewing Foundation to environmental sustainability projects. To learn more check them out here
Big isn’t necessary bad in the brewing industry. Heineken has almost 200 breweries around the world, basically to reduce their finished product distribution costs and to get the beer on your palette when its a fresh and tasty. Years ago, Heineken launched an inter-brewery efficiency monthly contest and ranked every location based on their energy consumption, waste, and other sustainability measures.
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