The Word Nerds

Green Beer for a Sustainable St. Patrick’s Day

Green Tips | March 8, 2018

Saint Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, which means time for fun social gatherings and celebration. However, with social gatherings it is easy to forget to be environmentally friendly. Beer bottles, plates, cups, food, and decorations can all turn into polluting waste if not disposed of properly. So before you go out to celebrate this year’s Saint Patrick’s Day, here are some simple green tips to consider before you purchase beer for this year’s celebrations.

Water is one of the primary components of beer production. With current droughts impacting parts of the United States and the world it is important to consider water usage and agricultural efficiency, especially for barley production. Some beer companies have taken steps to become more efficient to reduce their environmental impact. For a sustainable Saint Patrick’s Day, here are some brewer brands from which you can purchase for the holiday: Bass, Brahma, Bud Light, Busch, Goose Island, Michelob, Natural Light, Rolling Rock, Shock Top, Beck’s Hoegaarden, Leffe, Budweiser, and Stella Artois. All of these beer brands work in partnership with Smart Barley with the goal to reduce water usage through improved irrigation methods. Craft brewers associations are also creating blueprints to help conserve water.

In addition, beer companies are using organic materials and reusing production waste products to make more beer. Several companies, for instance, use grain scraps to craft beer, and use leftovers from the brewing process to make grain products. Carlsberg is piloting a program to make its bottles from sustainable wood fiber. Best of all for sustainably-minded consumers and stockholders, brewing companies such as Molson Coors are releasing their beer print. This means it will be easier to hold your favorite brewing company to account than ever before.

However, as a customer, purchasing beer from one of these companies does not ensure a reduction of your environmental footprint. It is still important to consider the packaging and disposal of the beer. Saltwater Brewery of Florida has created edible packaging rings, but this is a new trend and not yet the norm. Before purchasing your beer it is a good idea to check your town’s recycling program. Some recycling programs will not accept scrap metals such as leftover beer cans or kegs. If this is the case you may want to consider purchasing glass beer bottles, which can be easily recycled.

You should also consider emissions from transporting your beer from the brewery to your glass–purchasing from New York-based breweries can help keep these emissions low. Brooklyn Brewery, based in NYC, uses wind and solar power to run their operations, including their brewery and their storage warehouse. They have cut down on waste by sending spent grains to New Jersey as pig feed, and are working to make their production processes even more efficient.  Empire Brewing Company, in Central New York, has made sustainability a core part of its production–they source from local businesses, use renewable energy and have a number of waste-reduction initiatives. Arrowood Farms Brewery is a certified organic microbrewery in Accord, NY that grows its own hops on their farm. And Great Lakes Brewing Company has even produced a Sustainability Report to outline their many sustainability initiatives and goals.*

If you are interested in craft beer here are some additional options to stay sustainable: New Belgium Brewing Co., Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Brewery Ommegang, Brewery Vivant, Jester King Brewery, SweetWater Brewing Co., and Arcadia Brewing Co.

Before purchasing your beer you can also research brewing companies to check whether or not they are LEED certified or if they produce their beer efficiently. If you do not wish to purchase beer home brewing is also a potentially more sustainable option!

*Are you a New York-based sustainable Brewery that we didn’t mention? Email us and we’ll add you to our list:

Edits and Additions by: Willy Kane

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