I’m continuously impressed by alcohol producers who not only put out a delicious product but are charitable, too. We’ve talked about guys who use stale baked goods to make vodka and wineries who give back to environmental causes, but this round-up is all about beer that tastes good and does good.
According to the Brewers Association for Small and Independent Craft Brewers, “environmental stewardship is a top priority for both craft brewers and craft beer enthusiasts. Maintaining a healthy balance between stewardship, social enrichment and economic vitality is important to the future success of craft brewing.” Without further ado, here are some delicious brews you can feel great about drinking.
Brooklyn Brewery (Brooklyn, NY)
Nestled in my favorite borough, the Brooklyn Brewery has taken sustainability in beer making to a new level. The beer is produced in two New York facilities, both of which have “state-of-the-art controls” to ensure the process is as green as possible. They turn wastewater into methane gas for on-site energy production, use LED lighting to cut back on energy usage, and partnered with Arbor Day Foundation to offset 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide with around 375 acres worth of trees.
Beer to try: Brooklyn Lager
New Belgium Brewing Company (Fort Collins, CO)
Though New Belgium is one of the larger breweries on this list, it is widely recognized for its sustainable efforts, highlighting community support, material sourcing and environmental metrics. The brewery diverts 99.9 percent of its waste and produces 18 percent of its own energy on-site with solar and biogas. New Belgium Brewing is continually striving to reduce their emissions, and sources ingredients from local, sustainably like-minded farmers.
Beer to try: New Belgium Fat Tire
Ninkasi Brewing Company (Eugene, OR)
This brewery in the Pacific Northwest pays special attention to energy and water conservation, materials sourcing and recycling. Their original brewery and tasting room have been fueled partially by solar power since 2011, the same year Ninkasi started buying carbon offset credits, which help farmers turn waste into renewable energy. The brewery has eliminated as much excess water as possible in the production process and sources ingredients exclusively from the region – specifically Yakima Valley and the Willamette Valley. Their beer bottles are made from as much as 60 percent post-consumer glass from Portland, and the cardboard used in carriers and cartons is made from recycled tree fiber. And since 2009, Ninkasi has upcycled more than 82 million pounds of spent grain.
Beer to try: Prismatic Juicy IPA
Yards Brewing Co. (Philadelphia, PA)
Yards is committed to community and sustainability – they became the first brewery in Pennsylvania to use 100 percent wind power back in 2011.
“Our green power purchase just makes sense – it fulfills our business philosophy and falls in line with our community efforts to be more environmentally sustainable,” Yards founder Tom Kehoe said in a press release.
The brewery also collects and reuses two million gallons of water annually, and sends spent grain to local farms for livestock feed. But it doesn’t stop there… even their tasting room features upcycled materials, like bar tops that were formerly bowling alley lanes.
Beer to try: Yards Brawler
Photo courtesy of Daniel Lobo