Craft Beer vs. Domestic: Which Is More Eco-Friendly? Raise a glass to Mother Nature with a local organic micro-brew
If you watched the Super Bowl, you saw how much money the international mega brew powerhouse Anheuser-Busch has to throw around. It had hundreds of people dressed in full suits of armor pretending to risk their lives and go into battle for a taste of Bud Light beer. Supposedly this silliness is going to make you want to drink a watered-down version of an already simple-tasting pale yellow brew.
Craft beer companies don’t have that kind of money. And if they did, they wouldn’t waste it on actors to dress up as knights. Craft brewers are more focused on building their customer base with bold new flavors of beer with catchy names that are fun to say. Craft beers tend to be more local and focused on the community where it is made.
While some enjoy nationwide appeal, most local brews make their beer onsite and distribute it locally. You see few craft beer trucks in your travels. These are all generalizations, of course, and there are many exceptions.
Big beer conglomerates like Anheuser-Busch spend a lot of money on advertising and distribution, and they fight to maintain their market share — upon which craft beer is encroaching. Craft beer makers are generally local enterprises that keep their beer and money in the community. They tend to be more organic and more eco-friendly. Let’s look at some of the ways smaller breweries are attempting to help the environment.
Saving Water During Beer Making
To make beer, you have to use a lot of water. For each gallon of beer produced, a brewery will go through four to five gallons of water. This results in a great deal of wastewater. As the number of breweries increase, so do the demands on the local community’s wastewater treatment plants.
Brewery wastewater has the potential to be converted into biogas, which can be used as a fuel. Some breweries look into this process as a way to cut their water and energy consumption while increasing production.
Lagunitas Brewing Company has used these methods to generate 15 percent of the brewery’s electricity needs and 7% of the required heat in the brewing process. In doing so, it has cut its water use by 40% and reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by 1,600 metric tons.
Reducing Emissions and Energy Consumption From Beer Making
The Alaskan Brewing Company in Juneau, Alaska, operates its brewery under a “zero net negative effect” mission. It is committed to reclaiming and reusing whatever waste or remissions it produces.
It used some of the waste byproducts to fuel its packaging process. Spent grains are dried out and shipped to farmers across the country to use as fertilizer or feed.
The New Belgium Brewing Company in Collins, Colorado, has intensified its recycling process in an effort to become a zero waste facility. It has cut its CO2 emissions by 25% and kept over 99% of its waste from going into landfills.
The Brooklyn Brewery in Brooklyn, New York, operates its brewing production entirely off of wind energy. It employs solar panels in its storage facilities that generate about a third of the necessary power required. It recycles all of its paper, plastic and glass. Its spent grain is used as pig feed.
Pursuing Alternative Energy
So what about Anheuser-Busch? What is the beer conglomerate doing to help out the environment?
According to an article published this month, Anheuser-Busch InBev is committed to getting energy from green renewable resources. Anheuser-Busch strives to be 100% reliant on renewable energy by 2025.
It wants to reduce fossil fuel use to zero in that time as it will be good for the environment and good for business. Its goal is to create onsite power grids and reduce its carbon footprint by 35%.
So the big-league guys aren’t all bad. Every big business must address sustainability and the effects its production has on the environment. Still, there are other reasons to enjoy craft beer instead of a macrobrew, too, such as:
- Abundant Flavors: Try something different. Admittedly “peach pumpkin ale” sounds disgusting, but can you knock it if you haven’t tried it? Plus, they aren’t all like that. Many craft beers are just wholesome, good beers with bold flavors. They don’t need chocolate or cranberries in them. Give a few a try. You can always go back to Bud Light.
- Supporting Local Businesses: When you spend money to buy a growler of craft beer, you keep your money in the local economy. It isn’t wired across the country to a big beer conglomerate. Supporting local breweries helps the economy and keeps the good beer brewing.
- Helping the Environment: When you buy craft beer from a local brewery, you also save on packaging and delivery costs. Your beer comes right from where it was produced. It isn’t shipped hundreds or thousands of miles on a stinky diesel truck polluting its way across the country.
So keep an open mind and a full glass. Craft beer is popular for many reasons, and its market share is growing. It’s good beer. It comes in many varieties and flavors that appeal to a larger consumer base. And the makers care about the environment. They spend their money on making good beer, not dressing people in suits of armor and yelling “dilly-dilly” until we are crazy enough to buy their beer.