The microbrewery revolution took the '90s by storm, offering beer drinkers and epicureans alike a whole new palette of beer flavors – chocolately stouts, bitter, hoppy ales, honey wheat, white beers, even ciders.
Now that revolution is going green. Breweries like Mountain Goat in Australia or New Belgium Brewery on Colorado are sourcing organic ingredients, dramatically reducing water consumption, and retrofitting old breweries with new energy-efficiency gadgetry.
Denmark has joined the eco-beer boom with the Globe Ale, the first carbon-neutral, organic beer from the Norrebro Brewhouse, and after tasting this delicious brew, I’m thinking Denmark might just have the secret negotiation weapon it needs for the December climate talks in Copenhagen.
I met up with brew master Kaspar Larsen, who walked me through the process of brewing some of the tastiest beers on the market and how a beer company (essentially a CO2 factory) works to reduce its carbon footpint (I mean, footprint).
Since he insisted, I managed to sample five of the beers but realized that the return to my hotel via bicycle was becoming less and less likely with each sip. So the chef offered a too-delicious-to-describe pairing of artisanal Danish cheeses, like the smoked Brie whose name in Danish is unpronounceable (especially after five beers).
Not all the beers at Norrebro are organic and only the Globe is carbon neutral, but they were all fantastic. My favorite was the smoky Ravnsborg Red derived from an old process of toasting, rather than drying the malt over oak, in this case using a chopped-up Jack Daniels barrel for the wood smoke (a nice example of reuse, I must say).
The idea for Globe Ale started a year ago when the Brewhouse joined the Danish Ministry on Climate & Energy in its One Tonne Less program. When building its new brewery in Copenhagen, they were able to increase energy efficiency by about 20 percent over their previous brewery.
And in celebration of the climate talks in Copenhagen, they wanted to take it one step further. For the Globe Ale, they purchased carbon credits on the EU market to offset the remainder of the CO2 that accompanies the production and shipping of each bottle of beer (940 g of CO2 for a big 1 liter bottle).
It’s a valuable service (and appropriate for a consumer product like beer) as the market contains far too many cheap credits from yesteryear (called “quotas” in the EU) that need to be retired. By retiring carbon credits, the credits are taken off the market permanently, thus increasing the market price for carbon and the incentive for companies to invest in renewable energy and efficiency.
Can beer save the planet? Probably not, but at the very least it should help the negotiators relax a little during the climate talks. And perhaps, while sipping the fizz of carbon neutrality, they will be reminded that CO2 is much tastier when in it’s trapped in a bottle, and not in the atmosphere.
Globe Ale is definitely a carbon-capture technology I can get behind.
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