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Sustainable Beer

6 Ways to Become a Sustainable Beer Enthusiast

Have Your Ale and Drink It Too With These Sustainable Beer Drinking Tips

Beer is one of the oldest and most versatile beverages. It’s there when we need to unwind from a hectic week or simply want to indulge in the decadence of a maple bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout. But as great as it is, beer can be quite wasteful. In California, brewers use approximately 651 million gallons of water annually in both processing and brewing. And between bottle caps and six-packs, a lot of packaging material goes to waste. 

Fortunately for the beer enthusiast, there are many ways to drink beer sustainably, reducing the footprint of your favorite adult beverage. Follow the tips below to enjoy a frosty pint without the guilt – apart from the calories.

#1 Buy More Cans Than Bottles

As many breweries have discovered, it’s a lot easier to pack, ship and recycle aluminum cans than glass bottles. There are a number of reasons for this, including their compactness, durability and light metal frame. And because they won’t break into tiny pieces, consumers and bar owners alike can easily collect and recycle them, saving energy and keeping more material in the loop.

#2 Recycle Everything

Sustainable Brewing Tips

Sustainable beer enthusiasts know the importance of recycling. Bottles, caps, cans, six-pack cartons and cases can all be recycled. If you don’t have access to a curbside recycling service, use Earth911’s database to find a recycling center in your neighborhood. And remember to cut up those six-pack rings.

Beer: Good for the Gas Tank and the Dairy Pasture

“Pretty much all of our waste products, other than waste chemicals, get side-streamed to swap tanks where they are picked up by a local ethanol distiller and used to create a fuel additive…And our spent grains end up being used as feed for dairy cattle. It’s a very common way for brewers to reuse grain left over from the brewing process.”

Dave Sippel | Director of Brewing Operations, Arcadia Ales

#3 Bring Your Own Six-Pack Carrier

Instead of using a carboard carrier while browsing the singles section at the supermarket, bring your own reusable six-pack holder from home. There are variety of holders available online from places like Amazon and Etsy. But if one of your other hobbies happens to be woodworking, you could always build your own wooden six-pack holder using Box Brew Kits detailed instructions.

#4 Use Proper Glassware

Sustainable Beer Drinking Means Using Glass

You might catch some flak for going with glass, but pouring your beer into a pint glass is much more sustainable than using a disposable cup. Even if you recycle your plastic cups, you are still wasting more material and energy than if you were to use a proper glass. And besides, beer glasses look better.

Don’t Waste a Drop: How Arcadia Ales Saves Beer

“When we designed our new kegging line we were able to design it with a special valve that will send any remaining beer in the keg to a tank to later be turned into fuel. It’s just one more way we keep beer from going down the drain.”

Dave Sippel | Director of Brewing Operations, Arcadia Ales

#5 Drink Local

You can find local breweries in virtually every city in the country these days. That’s good news for both craft brewers and the sustainable beer enthusiast. Locally brewed beer has a lower impact simply because it has less distance to travel than imported or larger domestic varieties. And if you get a drink from the tap, you can bypass the entire bottling and canning process, saving both energy and water.

#6 Drink Sustainable Beer

Sustainable brewing companies are popping up all over the country with craft and large-scale brewers alike taking steps to reduce their impact. They are accomplishing this in a number of ways, including powering their breweries with renewable energy.

“Last year, we went live with a solar array,” says Dave Sippel of Arcadia Ales. “Our entire roof is now covered in solar panels thanks to a collaboration with our utility company.” The solar array provides approximately 25 percent of the energy needs of Arcadia’s Kalamazoo brewery and pub. Intriguingly, the brewery also recovers some of the energy that goes into making its beer. “At the end of the brewing process, we recover some of the [heat] energy by cooling the wort and using it to make hot water.” That's right, your ice cold beer can be used to make nice hot water. 

So, how can you tell your beer was brewed sustainably? Do some research to see what sustainability initiatives your brewery of choice has in place. Even if they don’t, you can still enjoy your favorite beer without the guilt by following our advice. After all, the best beer is the one in your hand.