There’s a lot more to being green or sustainable in the food/beverage industry than just being certified organic. Take the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. out of Chico, Calif., for example. There is no USDA-certified organic label stamped on their bottles, but that's okay. The brewery does plenty for the environment. Here are just a few of the steps this brewery takes to be responsible and sustainable:
- They have one of the largest private solar arrays in the United States that “provides the majority of the brewery’s electrical energy needs.”
- They aggressively recycle at the brewery including “office paper, cardboard, glass, stretch wrap, plastic strapping, construction materials, pallets and hop burlap.”
- They treat all their own wastewater in “a European-designed, two-step anaerobic and aerobic treatment plant that reprocesses and purifies all of the water produced from [their] brewing operations.”
- They use the methane generated from the anaerobic digestion of the wastewater to fuel their boilers.
Sierra Nevada also partners with Chico State University Farm. About seven years ago, they teamed up with the University Farm to have its students raise natural beef cattle to be used in their restaurant. The cattle are fed on spent brewers' grain and yeast from the brewery.
Now, according to ChicoER.com, Sierra Nevada is donating $88,000 for “a vacuum filler that stuffs sausage and a smoke oven” to replace outdated equipment and help the University Farm better use its meat trimmings, creating less waste. It also helps Sierra Nevada because the University Farm sausage is one of their popular menu items.
I’ve written in the past about organic beer and local beer being more eco-friendly than some other options. I would have to say that buying Sierra Nevada is an eco-friendly beer option, too.
What breweries do you know of that are doing their part for the environment, even if they don’t have a certified organic label stamped on the bottle?