28 September 2011

If I Owned a Brewery Part 3 - Going Green?

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and New Belgium Brewing Company make a point of telling folks that they are running their breweries in the most sustainable ways they can.  Steve Dresler, Brewmaster at Sierra Nevada, appeared on the Brewing Network's Sunday Session, to talk about sustainability ,as has Geoff Larson and Plant Manager Curtis Holmes of Alaskan Brewing Company, Jayne Lewis from Mountain Goat Brewing in Richmond, Australia.  The owner of (512) Brewing Company, Kevin Brand, packages his beer in kegs only to reduce single use packaging usage.

Sounds good, right?

Then they put the beer on trucks and ship it around the country.  (In his interview on the Sunday Session, Dressler said Sierra Nevada ships as much as possibly by rail, which has a smaller carbon footprint than trucks.)

Horst Dornbusch wrote an article for the Brewers Association, The Economics and Carbon Footprint of Long-Haul Beer Transport which examines the problem. "Many brewers nowadays are trying to reduce the carbon footprint of beer inside the brewery, but perhaps it is also time to focus on the carbon footprint of beer outside the brewery," he writes.

This echoes some thinking I've been doing the last few years: why buy ice cream from Vermont, when the stuff from Brenham, Texas, is just as good? Should I really be buying strawberries from Mexico in January, or wait until Summer and get strawberries from Poteet?

Earlier I wrote about keeping my market small, and that, to me, makes a brewery greener than one that uses solar panels.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 11:05

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