Is Your Brewpub ‘Cow Neutral’? And Other Sustainability Goals

Saving money is paramount to any small business but it really strikes home with brewing due to its capital-intense nature.

Running lean is natural for many breweries and Chris Reed, who is the Sales and Marketing Director for Core Brewing said he couldn’t identify one single piece of help, but rather noted that a lot of small decisions can add up to large scale savings for a brewery looking to be more sustainable.

“My favorite thing that we do is with a man that we call Farmer Joe,” Reed said about the relationship with their Springdale, Arkansas community. “Farmer Joe has a doctorate and is a principle of a very progressive school [and he] happens to be a farmer in his spare time. We save all of our spent grain which he picks up and feeds to his cows and in turn, he provides us with the best beef this side of anywhere.”

For Brewery Vivant, sustainability is key, and quantifiable.

Kate Avery, the Grand Rapids, Michigan’s brewpub’s Director of Sales & Marketing, shared that they release sustainability numbers (called “Beer the Change“) each year to show consumers how they have set and reached goals. One is to be ‘cow neutral,’ in which the number of hamburgers served in a year can be weighed against how much spent grain the brewery created to feed those same cows before becoming dinner. Check out Page 22 to see how the brewery feeds 43.4 cows while consuming 20.8. It’s a great resource on how to break down different bits of your brewery and help set your own goals.

“This is a look back at our goals, our progress towards them, and “little” things along the way that have made an impact on our business journey,” Avery said.

One thing Avery also noted was for breweries to do is simply to make a list of goals that they want to achieve.

“It sounds kinda corny or a no-brainer, but it’s a lot easier to do it if it’s on your mind in the form of a goal you’re chasing,” she said.

Kris Spaulding, who is the owner and facilitator for sustainability for Brewery Vivant pointed out to make sure the entire staff is trained on whatever sustainability program your brewery has.

“They can make an impact on your success,” she said. “That’s the most important thing you can do.

“We have new employees take a sustainability class which ensures that they understand the importance of our program and gives space for them to ask questions and share their insights as new people with fresh eyes.”

Dan Shapiro, Angel City Brewery‘s Events and Sponsorship Coordinator, said that the Los Angeles brewery tries to monitor everything as much as possible: water, solid waste, energy usage.

“That helps us realize where we can cut back and how,” Shapiro said. “We also take our spent grain and recycle it in several ways – cattle feed, dog treats, even as a growth medium for larvae that are used as a protein supplement.

“The most exciting way is that our farmer, Ray, turns it into compost and uses it in our rooftop garden. We grow passion fruit, dragon fruit, pineapples, mint, pomegranates and of course, hops.”

Since they have a lot going on under one roof, the best tip Shapiro said for their brewery and others is having all of the teams get together and align on goals.

“If we’re saving water in the Public House but wasting it in the brewhouse, we’re not going to be that effective,” he noted. “We try to make sure that everyone is aligned to get things done more efficiently.”

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