The Twelve Days of a Green Christmas – Sixth Day

On the sixth day of Christmas my green friend gave to me…a six pack of beer…five pairs of slippers…four chocolate bars…three holly trees…two vent fans…and a new doorbell!

A six-pack of beer?  OK now you might be thinking my green friend reverted to Jeff Foxworth’s Twelve Days of a Redneck Christmas…pretty funny but not green!  Actually my green friend gave me a six-pack of craft beers!  Ok, so what does this have to do with being a “green” Christmas present?  Most everyone knows brewing beer requires a lot of water and a lot of energy…both of which are NOT “green”!  If you enjoy beer you may have sampled some of your small local breweries’ selections of beers however not many of them are sustainable (brewing in the best interest of the environment).

My green friend researches everything and came up with 6 small and independent craft breweries that have increased their sustainability efforts…to reduce wastewater, excessive energy consumption, solid waste and harmful emissions without compromising the quality of beer. My six-pack of beer was not from one brewery but one bottle from six breweries!

Craft beers Photo Credit: Brewery Vivant

New Belgium Breweries has made being “environmental stewards” their top priority! Most recently, New Belgium has received a certification of the highest level from U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC) for their efficiency in reducing, reusing and recycling waste. New Belgium was recognized for phasing out paperboard dividers from all bottled beer packages (reducing paperboard use by more than 460 tons annually), carrying out waste audits of over 500 waste collection points, advancements in recycling for product packaging, donating time to zero waste actions, and diverting 99.9 percent of all brewery waste from landfills.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Mills River, NC attained a USGBC LEED Platinum certification, the first!  Although their CA location does not have that certification they wanted to make their NC facility a new commitment to the environment. The new brewery diverts 81 percent of total waste away from landfills and has reduced water consumption to a mere 3.5 barrels of water for every one barrel of beer, a near-historic low in the brewing industry. At the heart of the Mills River brewery design is an elaborate series of cisterns, underground storage, sunken gardens and bioswales leading to a system of plunge pools to further clear the water as it reenters the river.

In 2012, Brewery Vivant was the first production brewery in the US ever to receive USGBC’s LEED certification (LEED Silver). In the summer of 2016 Brewery Vivant took their sustainability another step further by installing a 192 solar panel array atop their production brewery and adjoining pub. The new panels provide 20 percent of their energy needs on site.

Earlier this year Jester King Brewery (Austin,TX) announced they started farming the surrounding 58 acres of land they had procured earlier with what the brewery describes as “fairly modest” efforts. Beginning with one acre, the brewery is growing peach trees, plum trees, blackberry bushes and a melon patch. In addition to the acre of fruit, the brewery has a test plot of wheat and some wild rye. The brewery believes their farming efforts will allow them to use their brewing byproducts as fertilizer, reduce fossil fuel consumption, apply ethical, safe growing techniques such as pruning and harvesting by hand, eliminating toxic fertilizers, pesticides/herbicides.

A decade ago, SweetWater Brewing Co. Atlanta, GA, began an annual summer campaign “Save Our Water,” a multifaceted fundraising effort for Waterkeeper® Alliance that supports more than 40 Waterkeeper® communities in cities where SweetWater beer is distributed. Earlier this year SweetWater celebrated its’ 10 year anniversary of the Save Our Water campaign. The brewery donated $100,000 to five organizations dedicated to clean water initiatives: Building Conservation Trust, Ducks Unlimited, Surfrider Foundation, Trout Unlimited and Waterkeeper Alliance. The brewery also promotes a matching funds effort with the goal of raising a total of $200,000 to help protect waterways.

Over the years, Arcadia Brewing Co.’s (Kalamazoo, MI), sustainability efforts have included implementing biofuel production, spent grain reallocation to local farmers, water conservation, installing a car charging station at their Kalamazoo location, and taking part in the Sustainable Brewing Program, the nation’s first higher education program in sustainable brewing. Earlier this year Arcadia continued its efforts in sustainability with the addition of solar panels to the Kalamazoo brewery and pub. The 536 solar panels are expected to produce 185,000 kWh of energy annually, which is roughly equivalent to 25 percent of the brewery and tavern’s total consumption.

My green friend was right on target with a six-pack of beer filled with 6 bottles of craft beer from select craft breweries.  Although I am familiar with some of the breweries I look forward to discovering others that I like! I think it is important to support local and especially “environmentally sensitive”  breweries! Do you know of any small, craft breweries that you love and can share what have they done for the environment or their sustainability efforts? Please share your comments below.

If this is the first post you have read of my green rendition of the Twelve Days of a Christmas and you can’t figure out what the heck I am writing about or why I’m writing about the Twelve Days after Christmas, click here to read how this all began. Please join me tomorrow for the Seventh Day of a Green Christmas!


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