A few weeks back, our colleagues at Wend Magazine published an article about the “environmental ethos” of craft brew, and as small brewery enthusiasts and environmentalists ourselves, the Matador Team was naturally interested in writer Kyle Cassidy’s observations.
Here’s what Cassidy had to say about craft beer and its low environmental impact:
1. Craft brewers buy local.
“They support their communities by buying fresh local ingredients.” For this reason, the carbon footprint of the ingredients that go into making that unique local brew is much smaller than would be the case for a big brewer who trucks in base ingredients across a larger distance.
2. Craft brewers sell local.
Just as they source their ingredients locally, many craft brewers only sell locally, too. While the decision to sell locally isn’t always or strictly an environmental decision–it’s often one based entirely in start-up/small business economics–it has positive environmental benefits, nonetheless.
Like the local sourcing of ingredients, selling locally means that the factory-to-point of sale path is a short one, requiring fewer transportation resources. Also, brewers can more easily reclaim their bottles, reusing them again and again.
3. Craft brewers connect with their communities.
Because of their emphasis on all things local, craft brewers have a greater tendency than big beer companies to connect with people and issues in their communities.
Craft breweries can support environmental and community building initiatives in collaboration with other organizations and businesses in the area, and have a much better idea about the impact of their operations because their management team doesn’t live hundreds or thousands of miles away.
4. Craft brewers manage their waste effectively.
Craft brewers, according to Cassidy, often enter into agreements with farmers in their communities to dispose of the grain waste in a manner that’s environmentally friendly.
In other locations where such collaborations aren’t feasible, craft brewers are experimenting with using spent grains as a fuel source to power their own operations.
What other reasons can you think of that make craft breweries environmentally sustainable? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Want to find America’s best beer? Check out Beer Quest 2008: The Search for America’s Best Microbrew.
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