You are what you drink, or so the saying goes. So why not skip the watered down Budweiser laced with green food coloring this St. Patrick's Day and grab a real "green" brew instead. In stark contrast to some of the large corporate beer makers, many craft breweries are at the forefront of sustainability. Perhaps by drinking these more local beers you will not only lessen your impact on the environment but also on your head the next morning.
Anderson Valley Brewing Co. in Boonville, CA grows around two acres of their own hops and 40% of the brewery's electrical needs are met by a large array of solar panels. The brewery recycles all of its plastic wrap, paper, metal, glass, cardboard, and plastic bottles. Organic waste is also recycled – spent grain is used by local farmers for cattle feed and spent hops are applied to fields to naturally fertilize. Land management enlists the help of some furry friends – of Anderson Valley’s approximately 28 acres of grass, about 10% is “mowed” using a team of goats.
To get a good taste of those locally grown hops, try a Hop Ottin IPA or Heelch O'Hops Double IPA. Don't forget to take a look underneath the cap next time you crack open an AVBC cold one – you’ll find something interesting.
Sierra Nevada is the only brewery using hydrogen fuel cells onsite. The company has massively invested in green hardware and infrastructure, installing 10,000 solar cell arrays on the brewery rooftop and parking lot, generating 2.6 megawatts of electricity used to run daily operations with enough left over to power the electric vehicle charging stations.
Over 99.5% of the brewery’s solid waste is diverted from landfill and an on-site water treatment plant purifies waste water that is then used to water the brewery’s own crops of organic hops and barley. You can't go wrong drinking the ever popular Pale Ale.
In 2013, New Belgium diverted 99.9% of their waste from the landfill with hopes to become a Zero Waste facility before too long. Methane harvested from wastewater supplies in the on-site Process Water Treatment Plant provides New Belgium with 15 percent of its electricity needs. A solar array supplies another 3% of the brewery's annual energy. Kick back with a New Belgium Sunshine to celebrate the arrival of spring.
Brooklyn Brewery obtains 100% of its energy from wind – the brewery purchases wind power from Consumer’s Energy who own a wind farm in Upstate New York. Spent grain is left in barrels out front for locals to pick up as food for their home grown chickens. Named after the 1955 World Champion Dodgers, the Pennant Ale is a perennial favorite.
With almost 2500 craft breweries across the US, you should find it easy to enjoy a local, sustainable, and "green" beer this St. Patrick's Day. What are some of your favorites?