Brewing beer is one of the oldest art forms on the planet, and now it’s becoming one of the greenest. Big, small, north, south, east, and west, sustainability practices are booming in breweries across the country. We’ve put together a list of eight that you should visit, because their environmentalism is as refreshing as their beer.
1. New Belgium Brewing (Fort Collins, CO/Asheville, NC)
New Belgium Brewing’s website features a commitment to sustainability just as prominently as their beer selection. From their partnership with Ben & Jerry’s to raise climate awareness, to their Brewery Climate Declaration, New Belgium has made its stance well-known to the brewing industry and its patrons. Their commitment to sustainability ranges from their packaging, sourcing, and ingredients, to their buildings in CO and NC, both built from reused material and utilizing renewable energy sources including solar and LED.
2. Brooklyn Brewery (Brooklyn, NY)
Considered an “urban brewery,” Brooklyn Brewery’s city setting provides its own unique conservation challenges. In 2013 they formed a Green Team to coordinate more sustainable practices, which led to the use of Renewable Energy Credits, LED retrofitting, used barrels and other materials, and installing energy efficient machinery. Brooklyn Brewery also partners with local and national conservation organizations, including GrowNYC and Charity Water.
3. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Mills River, NC/Chico, CA)
Both of Sierra Nevada’s breweries on each coast employ energy efficient technologies, making their sustainability efforts a cross-country plan. While Sierra Nevada’s brewery in Chico, CA features one of the largest privately-owned solar arrays in the country—boasting 10,751 panels—their Mills River, NC location became the first production brewery in the US to be LEED® certified, Platinum—the highest level awarded—in June 2016.
4. Full Sail Brewing (Hood River, OR)
Full Sail Brewing has a lot to brag about in regards to their sustainability. Their water usage was reduced to less than 3 gallons while many breweries use 6-8; their compressed work week reduced power consumption and water use by 20%; and 99% of their ingredients are local—including water used from a Mount Hood spring. And the public has taken notice, with publications like the Huffington Post recognizing Full Sail Brewing for their sustainability efforts.
5. Lakefront Brewery (Milwaukee, WI)
Lakefront Brewery’s path to sustainability began initially with historical preservation, moving into and restoring old buildings already in Milwaukee, as well as utilizing and preserving historic artifacts. The founders also established relationships with local farmers, regionally sourcing ingredients like hops, yeast, and barley. These and other practices led Lakefront Brewery to become the first brewery in Wisconsin and the first business in Milwaukee to receive the Travel Green Wisconsin certification from The Wisconsin Department of Tourism.
6. Brewery Vivant (Grand Rapids, MI)
Brewery Vivant has the honor of being the first microbrewery ever awarded LEED® certification, but that’s only a portion how they have incorporated eco-friendly practices. Their Beer The Change® 2016 sustainability report highlights other environmental actions, including that 90% of all purchases were from within 250 miles, 10% of onsite energy is from renewables, and 97% of their waste is diverted from landfills. They also note that 69% of their staff come from within a 5 mile radius, so they are encouraged to cut down their CO2 emissions, creating a sustainability culture both inside and out.
7. Alaskan Brewing Co. (Juneau, AK)
For Alaskan Brewing Co. in Juneau, sustainability means employing innovative technologies. This means being the first brewery ever to install and operate a CO2 reclamation system, which captures and cleans carbon dioxide, preventing 1 million+ pounds of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere each year. Alaskan Brewing is also the first brewery to install a mesh filter press, allowing them to use 2 million fewer gallons of water, 6% less malt, and reduce their energy output overall to make the same amount of beer as a traditional brewing process.
8. Great Lakes Brewing Co. (Cleveland, OH)
Great Lakes Brewing’s commitment to sustainability incorporates their community as much as the earth. In addition to their solar panel installation, water usage reduction, local farming, and waste repurposing, GLBC also supports nurturing the region. This comes primarily in the form of their Burning River Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to improving, maintaining, and celebrating the vitality of their regional freshwater resources, which has resulted in a collaborative cleanup and restoration effort by non-profit, corporate, and government entities.