Green Beer

No, I’m not talking about that delightfully green beverage that proliferates the country every Saint Patrick’s Day, which is just around the corner always on March 17th.  Mark your calendars now.

When I say green beer, I mean environmentally friendly brews that simultaneoulsy reduce your carbon footprint and social tension. After all, it’s beer consumption season, with the Super Bowl, St Paddy’s Day and warmer months on the horizon.

Organic Beer – One of the big problems with buying environmentally-friendly beer is that even if you think you are buying organic beer, there’s a chance it might not be as green as the organic label implies.

Hops, which is one of the biggest contributors to the taste of your beer, are often sprayed with different pesticides. Since hops makes up less than five percent of the beer’s volume, and the USDA certifies products as organic if they are 95 percent or higher, it often slips under the wire.

Local vs.Long Haul – It’s a better idea to buy an inorganic local beer rather than a 100 percent organic imported beerbecause of the food miles (see the Green Blizzard article on Food Miles), and carbon cost of transportation and distribution. Most of our national beer brands have strategically placed breweries across the U.S. to reduce transportation costs and carbon footprints. For instace, Budweiser has 12 different breweries (U.S. breweries by state).

Tap vs. Bottled – When you’re at a bar, ordering a beer on tap is the best green choice, and we all know that beer on tap tastes better anyway. Kegs are pretty efficient vessels compared to the glass or aluminum ratio of individual bottles and cans. Your best option, purely from an environmental perspective, is to walk down to the local pub for a frosty mug of beer on tap.

Local Brew Pubs – Take the transportation factor out of beer’s carbon footprint, and you may be on to something. Many restaurants now have microbreweries, which are better for the environment because they eliminate distribution costs. According to Wikipedia, 1,400 restaurant brew pubs are being operated in the U.S.

Keggers – Anything to improve the ratio of packaging to the consumed product will reduce your carbon footprint of this consumer choice.  For all those large and small parties, try to find a store that sells kegs rather than buying an endless stream bottles or cans.  This will drastically reduce your waste and its associated carbon footrpint. Who would have thought keggers are critical to eco-friendly celebrations!

Bottles vs Cans – Despite the urban myth, glass recycling is not really effective.  It’s labor, energy intensive, and still not economically viable. Whereas, aluminum recycling avoids 95% of the energy it took to make the original can and recycling aluminum is the only widespread recycled commodity that is economically viable.   When in doubt, go with cans.    (GB – Aluminum Cans Power Ingots)

Here are some other Green Blizzard articles on how you can reduce your carbon footprint through food and drink choices: Food WasteWhich Foods Have The Lowest Carbon ImpactCarbon Impact of MeatsAre We Eating Fish Into Extinction?.


About the author

John R. Garnet

John's work in the energy market fostered his interest in the environment. He recently completed his graduate work at George Mason University, But more interestingly, John has a passion for food and cooking and to provides some light-hearted tips to make people's lives greener while enjoy the good life with everyday practical tips from brewing tea, growing basil, or drinking raw milk.