I really enjoyed the craft beer festival I attended over the weekend – Pour-a-Palooza. I learned a lot. I learned that there are craft beer lovers who cellar their beers like wine lovers cellar their wines. I had no idea. I found out that to be a craft brewery, you almost always need a version of an IPA (India Pale Ale). I also found out that I’m not a fan of IPA’s. I discovered that some craft beers don’t taste like beer at all – at least to me.

I also was very pleased to learn that many of the small, craft breweries out there take sustainability seriously. Take Long Trail Brewing Co. out of Bridgewater Corners, Vt., for example. I had the pleasure of tasting Long Trail’s Coffee Stout. It’s an Imperial Stout with 8.0 percent alcohol by volume. I really enjoy stout beer, and this one I'll be hunting down to drink again.

The coffee used in this beer is 100 percent certified fair trade, organic coffee from the Vermont Coffee Company. That’s only a small part of what Long Trail does to make this beer, and its other beers, sustainable.

Long Trail uses an ECO Brew process. ECO stands for Environmentally Conscious Operations.

Here are a few of the environmentally conscious actions that Long Trail implements in their brewing process:

Using like-minded suppliers – They partner with companies that have the environment in mind, too, like the Vermont Coffee company that supplies them with the organic, fair trade coffee for their beer.

Spent mash – Part of the waste from their brewing process is used by local cattle farmers to feed their cows. The mash is inexpensive compared to the soybean or corn feed that’s available, and it’s better for the cows.

Heat recovery – The steam that is produced from the cooking process is recovered and turned back into water and used again in the brewing process.

Biodiesel – Long Trail has a pub, and the grease from the restaurant’s fryers is used as bio diesel for their tractor, the truck that delivers their spent mash, and some of the employee’s commuter vehicles.

Water conservation – Long Trail is not hooked up to the local municipal water system. They have a hydrologic cycle that allows them to take water drawn from bedrock artesian wells, process most of it into great beer, and fully treat any wastewater that results before returning it to the ground via underground injection into on-site leach fields.

Because of this process, they are able to use only two gallons of water to make every one gallon of beer. The industry standard is six gallons of water to every one gallon of beer. That’s a big difference.

Long Trail brews more than just the Coffee Stout. Year round they have a Long Trail Ale, an IPA (of course), Blackberry Wheat, Hefeweizer (another popular craft brew), and a Double Bag Ale. The brewery also has seasonal beers and Brewmaster and Limited Editions – like the Coffee Stout.  

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