Why beer is even better than you thought.
I’m kicking things off here with a topic near and dear to my heart, breweries. The environmental impact of the Bud Light you drink may not be the first thing on your mind when you’re halfway through your fourth shotgun in 5 minutes, but it's a small and potentially hugely beneficial change you can make that adds up to some good. Essentially every industry winds up with some waste, and brewing is no exception. Packaging, bottles, cans, branded apparel, raw materials from the brewing process, and the materials and energy required to run and maintain a brewery and distribution network all produce waste. Breweries are making huge headway towards becoming much cleaner, mostly smaller breweries, but some of the giants in the industry are also taking steps towards becoming much more environmentally friendly.
As I hinted at before, there’s a double benefit to drinking beers that are brewed sustainably. Allagash Brewing and Sierra Nevada are two breweries that are on the leading edge of sustainable brewing, and they both produce some pretty incredible beer. Allagash has a dedication to using locally grown ingredients, and maintaining an extremely energy efficient brewery through solar panels and motion sensing LED lights. They reuse or rehome 99% of their waste, and donate spent grain to local farmers. They also happen to brew Allagash White, a Belgian style wheat beer that is in my top 5 favorite beers. One of the things that drew me to them was that they are based in Portland, Maine, a spot I loved visiting growing up, and enjoy even more now for the food and great beer. If you can get Allagash locally I highly recommend you try it, you won’t be disappointed.
Sierra Nevada takes it a step further, sustainability is a core value of their company. A brief look at their website will tell you that, they say they’ve taken the road less traveled, focusing on maintaining and improving their sustainability even if it makes the brewing process more difficult. Their brewery in Mills River, North Carolina, was the first brewery ever to receive LEED Platinum certification, meaning that facility is as green as it gets. Their brewery in Chico, CA has over 10,500 solar panels on site, and the beer they produce there is top notch. My personal favorite from them is their original Pale Ale, another beer I’m happy to say is in my top 5.
It’s not just smaller scale breweries making progress here though, some of the big names have really started to make a change. Anheuser-Busch has announced sustainability goals to be met by 2025, they include 100% renewably sourced electricity, water efficiency projects at breweries and in their communities, recycled or recyclable packaging, and working with their farmers to increase sustainability and efficiency. Everyone knows Bud Light, Bud Heavy, and the slew of other beers produced by Anheuser-Busch, so now you won’t feel bad drinking a full 18 by yourself while out golfing with the fellas.
“A fine beer may be judged with only one sip, but it’s better to be thoroughly sure.” - Czech Proverb
Just the quality of the beer alone is a good reason to start drinking more sustainably sourced beer, with the added benefit of saving the world. I honestly can’t say enough good things about Allagash and Sierra Nevada, really some pretty fantastic beer coming from both of them right now.