Think green beer is something only to be enjoyed on Saint Patrick’s Day? Think again. The Anderson Valley Brewing Company, located in Boonville, California, is committed to producing quality craft brews year round, while impacting the environment as little as possible.
Founded in 1987 as a brewpub brewery, the Anderson Valley Brewing Company quickly grew from a 10 barrel brewing operation, to a state-of-the-art three-story brewhouse, building with its reputation its commitment to preserving local ecology and the environment.
In 2006, as part of the brewery’s commitment to saving energy and natural resources, a large photo voltaic array (aka Solar Panels) was installed on brewery property, supplying 40% of the company’s electrical needs. Additionally, the brewery is careful to recycle as many materials as possible, including plastic, paper, steel, glass, and cardboard, while using post-consumer and recycled materials in many of their products. Organic waste in the form of grain and byproducts from the brewing process is also recycled to be used for cattle feed, organic crop spray, or to grow mushrooms.
The brewery’s most recent attempt to increase its “greenness” has led it to begin packaging it’s beers in aluminum cans, which are not only compact and efficient to ship than bottles, but are also far more recyclable, since there is no limit to number of times aluminum can be recycled, all without sacrificing taste of quality of its beer.
Luckily for beer lovers and environmentalists alike, the Anderson Valley Brewery is not the only brewery dedicated to providing tasty beer with low impact on the environment, as other breweries are joining the “green beer” movement. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, of Chico, California, for example, also employs the use of solar panels, as well as four co-generation fuel cells, to meet almost all of the company’s power needs, in an environmentally friendly way. Additionally, the brewery makes use of large windows and skylights to light the inside of their facility with sunlight, while utilizing timers, ambient light sensors, and motion sensors to increase energy savings when using electric lighting.
Similarly, Brooklyn Brewery, established in Brooklyn, New York, is not only one of the top 40 breweries in the nation, but is the first company in New York City powered exclusively by wind power. The brewery uses wind turbines to produce all of the electricity used by both its headquarters and brewery.
Peak Organic Brewing Company, located in Portland, Maine, on the other hand, does not make use of alternative energy to power its operation, however the brewery still keeps sustainability in mind by using locally and organically grown, fair trade ingredients in its beer whenever possible, while showing that “you don’t need to sacrifice flavor for sustainability.”
Though not all American breweries are quite ready to commit to sustainable business practices, companies like Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Brooklyn Brewery, Peak Organic Brewing Company, and many others are paving the way, proving that crafting beer can be a sustainable practice, and that you do not need to sacrifice quality in the process.