How Breweries Across the Country Work at Cost-Effective Conservation

Protecting water as a resource always seems to be one of the first things brought up when you ask a brewery how its looking to make a positive impact in being green.

Energy conservation is another key toward being more green as well.

Here are what some breweries shared as to the efforts that they have to ensure they are being green:

Anderson Valley Brewing – Boonville, California:

Anderson Valley has been recognized by CalRecycle with its Waste Reduction Award (WRAP) Program award for six consecutive years, said AVBC Brewmaster Fal Allen.

“We have 768 solar panels that generate about 40 percent of our electricity needs,” he added, “and we recycle, repurpose and reuse. We strive to recycle 100 percent of our waste paper, cardboard, metal, glass, aluminum, plastic.”

The brewery recycles and reuses all of its wastewater as well.

“It is used as irrigation water on our property,” he said, noting that over 99.9 percent of the brewery’s spent hops, grain and yeast are taken by a farmer to use as feed.

An interesting conservation note from Allen, he shared this small story: “When we had to replace the bottoms of our copper kettles, instead of scrapping them we used them to build a fountain and a bar top.”

Yee-Haw Brewing – Johnson City, Tennessee:

For Head Brewer Cris Ellenbecker and his Yee-Haw brewing crew, being green is all about water.

“We try to do what we can to reuse and recycle the water we have for the operation,” he said. “That’s where most breweries lose the most, and of course there’s sometimes where you can’t save it, but we do what we can.”

Destihl Brewery – Normal, Illinois:

The brewery installed a few notable green measures when building its new $14 million facility.

“We have implemented a waste water side streaming system in order to pretreat the water back to a normalized pH prior to introducing it back into our city’s municipal water treatment system,” said marketing manager Giotto Troia. “This is not something that was mandated, we just see it as a responsible thing to do and a new challenge for us as we grow. The last thing we want is to affect, in a negative way, is our local wildlife, foliage and micro flora.”

The wastewater side streaming project is reducing the cost on the city by not having to treat the water as much as would be required without it.

“Obviously that will save many people money in our local area,” Troia said.

Destihl always has and will continue to donate spent grain to local farmers as well as Illinois State University’s Agricultural department.

“They use it for cow and pig feed,” explained Troia. “We also donate to Ropp Farms who feeds their cows, their cows produce milk, Ropp then makes cheese and they brine their cheese with our beer and we then add that cheese to our burgers. So many times, our grain does come full circle. It’s a fun process.”

Figueroa Mountain Brewing – Buellton, California:

In the brewing industry, there are always ways to strengthen a brewery’s conservation efforts said Laura Moore, Figueroa Mountain‘s Events Manager and Marketing Coordinator.

“Whether it be water usage, grain disposal, using renewable resources, or more,” she said. “Figueroa Mountain has both wind turbines and solar panels located on the roof of the production brewery and has installed variable-speed drives (VSDs) to conserve energy. We also send all of our used grain to a local rancher to feed his livestock, then use the meat fed by the grain in our Farm to Table kitchen menu.”

Devils Backbone Brewing – Roseland, Virginia:

When Brian Godfrey, the brewery’s Environmental and Safety Manager, came to Devil’s Backbone one of the issues he noted was the cost of recycling of out of date or low fill beer, both cans and bottles.

“I was able to find a processing facility that operates a Distilled Spirits Plant,” he explained. “They have the ability to take in waste streams containing alcohol and recapture ethanol using distillation. The liquid is processed onsite with a molecular sieve into fuel grade ethanol. They turn the waste into renewable fuel sources. The company then through its partnerships are able to recycle the cans and bottles reducing items headed to landfills.”

Another strategy to keep costs down and stay sustainable is negotiating recycling contracts.

“My goal is to be revenue neutral,” he said of the deals. “By getting a recycler the items that will make their company money and seeking a negotiated return for DBBC I can offset the cost of transportation and recycling items that the profit margin is not very high leading to DBBC having to pay for recycling of that product. The amount DBBC would earn for recycling the better profit margin items essentially pays for the lower margin items.”

Currently Godfrey is working on a water study.

“In order to best determine how to conserve or reuse I need to know how much water we currently use, what processes use the most water, what is in that process that may contaminate or change the water, how do we discharge the water, etcetera,” he said. “Once I have determined the answers to those types of questions I can decide on ways to control amounts of water used, determine ways to treat water for reuse or ways to properly dispose. There may be simple answers that do not cost much initially and some may require long term investment.”

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