Conventional beer production can be tough on the environment, so it’s definitely worth it to seek out alternatives. A cocktail of highly polluting chemicals are used to grow barley and hops, beer’s primary ingredients. Shipping the full bottles or cans around the world also consumes fossil fuels. Luckily, there are some widely available sustainable options. Here are my Green, Greener, Greenest ideas for summertime sipping.
Buying local reduces the amount of fossil fuels used to ship beer and supports nearby businesses. Microbreweries have become much more common over the years, so you’re likely to have some options in your area. To find one nearby, visit Beer Advocate’s website, beeradvocate.com. Also, always recycle bottles and cans, and if you’re having a large enough party, consider going for a keg and reusable cups to cut down on waste.
Buy beer from a brewery that follows sustainable practices. Brooklyn Brewery, for example, donates its used grains to farmers who use it for feed. New Belgium Brewery in Colorado is built sustainably and powered 70 percent by wind and 15 percent by methane gas created with the aid of its beer waste. Organic beer is one of the fastest growing categories of organic beverages, and as demand grows, larger players like Anheuser-Busch are jumping into the market. There’s been some controversy over organic beer because the USDA allows producers to use conventionally grown hops if they can’t find organic versions, so it’s best to ask a brewer what they use.
Brew your own organic beer. You’ll save money and help the planet by cutting down on things like packaging and fossil fuels used for shipping and in-store refrigeration. Get educated on all the nuances of brewing at Beer Advocate. You can shop for supplies like bottles, caps, and brew kettles at Seven Bridges Cooperative (breworganic.com). Finally, learn how to toast in 30 different languages at languagemuseum.org. My favorite? Laissez les bons temps rouler!
Story by Lori Bongiorno. Lori Bongiorno is the author of Green, Greener, Greenest: A Practical Guide to Making Eco-Smart Choices a Part of Your Life (Perigree Trade Paperback Original). This article originally appeared in Plenty in September 2008.
Copyright Environ Press 2008