Great Lakes Craft Brewers & Water Conservation Conference

August 16, 2009

Recently, during Ohio Brew Week, I shared a book signing event with beer and food writer Lucy Saunders. She let me know about an event she is organizing to help brewers learn better water conservation practices.

There will be presentations from brewers and water experts, including Wisconsin Secretary of Commerce Dick Leinenkugel will present a keynote and discuss his efforts with the M-7 Water Council to make Milwaukee the freshwaster hub of the world.

Wisconsin Craft Brewers and Water Conservation Conference
Oct. 26-27, 2009
Where: Pilot House, Pier Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI
Cost: $195 until Sept. 19, then $250 until Oct. 20, then $375 for onsite registration.
More Info:

Water Stewardship Certification for Beer

March 31, 2009

A couple weeks ago the World Water Forum was held in Istanbul, Turkey. According to an AFP article, a new scheme was announed at the Forum designed to identify products produced with water from a sustainable source.

Michael Spencer, director of the Australia’s Water Stewardship Initiative, spoke at the Forum explaining: “That there is a crisis in water is a given, and that we need to address it is a given. That’s why there’s so much momentum behind developing a global standard.”

The standard, when launched, could follow the mold of the highly succesful Forest Stewardship Council program which includes more than 12,000 companies participating in identifying products produced through sustainable forestry practices.

Spencer said the label could be in use within 18 months on products as varied as beer and breakfast cereal.

Think Outside the Bottle

September 6, 2008
Pledge to Break the Bottled Water Habit

In the past decade, bottled water has become a convenience most Americans have come to take for granted. Homebrewers often use it in place of water from the tap. Likewise, coffee connoisseurs are reaching for the bottled stuff in attempts to brew great coffee at home.

Fact is, water is the biggest ingredient in both beer and coffee, so it makes sense to pay attention to its quality. But did you know that roughly half of bottled water is just tap water put in a bottle? And furthermore, that the health and safety regulations governing tap water are far more effective than those in place for bottled water – bottled water often is untested whereas there are free annual water quality reports available for all municipal tap water systems?

What’s more is that bottled water is an astounding 750-2,700 times more expensive than tap water.

Take a look at the new, free Responsible Purchasing Guide to Bottled Water Alternatives. Then take the Center for a New American Dream’s Pledge to Break the Bottled Water Habit.

UK’s First Carbon-Neutral Beer?

June 6, 2008

Adnams Managing Director Andy Wood with bottle of East GreenAdnams claims to have produced the U.K.’s first carbon-neutral beer. The beer is a light ale called East Green, named after the village common in front of the brewery.

The summer issue of American Brewer contains a story I wrote about New Belgium’s recent carbon-lifecycle assessment of their flagship Fat Tire amber ale. The same conclusions reached in that report are reflected in the efforts taken by Adnams to curb their carbon emissions.

Adnams Eco Distro CenterThe first area of interest to brewers is addressing their own operations. Adnams took a major step in this direction with the new “eco-built” distribution center they opened in late 2006. The facility sports what was at the time the UK’s largest “living roof.”

Quoted in The Publican, the company’s managing director Andy Wood claimed, “If this beer sold in comparative volumes to Broadside (the company’s leading brand, ed.) it would be the equivalent of taking sixty-five cars off the road a year.”

But even with a “green” distribution center and a highly efficient brewery, there are carbon emissions generated throughout the lifecycle of the product. Chief among the upstream impacts are barley malt and glass bottles. Adnams sourced exclusively locally-grown and malted barley for this beer, which limited emissions to a degree. They also utilized aphid-resistant Boadicea hops which limit the need for petroleum-based pesticides, striking another blow against the infernal carbon fiend. And they developed a lighter-weight beer bottle (click here to download a pdf about their lightweight bottle).

Through these and other measures, Adnams was able to reduce the carbon footprint of East Green from a maximum of 159 grams of carbon equivalent (gCe) per bottle to 118 gCe. The remaining emissions were offset with assistance from Climate Care and the Carbon Trust. Here’s a look at breakdowns of the emissions before and after the carbon reduction strategies were implemented.

East green emissions before reductions.Figure 1. Emissions from Adnams’ East Green ale before reductions strategies were implemented.

East Green emissions after reductions.Figure 2. Emissions from East Green after reductions strategies were implemented.

Read more about Adnams East Green on their website here.

Hell, Heaven, and Organic Beer

April 8, 2008

Some days everything in the world feels just right. Today started out the other way – like we’re doomed to make the same mistakes over and over. The news in the Washington Post was even more depressing than usual: mass rapes in the Congo, budget crises in the state governments, Mugabe continuing to jockey for power in Zimbabwe, China violating human rights, and General Petraeus telling us that the war in Iraq is going just fine.

Clearly, the world is going to hell.

But then the day took a turn for the better. I’m a pacifist – I haven’t heard of a war yet that I think makes a shred of sense. But I have a strange connection to some of today’s news, particularly that involving the U.S. military. You see, the Pentagon is one of the world’s largest offices, housing about 23,000 employees. The building is so big that it undergoes continuous renovations because by the time they finish up one section, there is another section ready for rehab. The contractors who manage these renovations invited my group, the Responsible Purchasing Network, to help them develop a green purchasing policy. Today I found out, unofficially, that we were awarded the contract. Cool.

But then something even more impressive happened. I got free beer in the mail. I love it when that happens. Have I said that before? Sorry, I can’t help it. There is just nothing like the feeling I get when free beer appears unexpectedly in the mail . . . addressed to me . . . and did I mention it was free? And sometimes . . . it’s even organic! My god, I’ve died and gone to heaven.

Green Lakes Organic AleToday I received three bottles of the new Green Lakes Organic Ale from Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon. Two bloggers wrote about this beer during last month’s Beer Blogging Session, which I hosted here at BeerActivist.

The beer is brewed with five types of certified organic malts. But what I found more intriguing is that it is brewed with ‘certified salmon safe‘ hops. I had never heard of this before. Apparently, Safe Salmon is a non-profit group working to protect salmon habitat in the Willamette Valley of Oregon (where much of America’s hops are grown) by certifying farm practices that prevent run-off and other habitat damage.

The beer itself is a delicious bitter ale. Scorers over at Beer Advocate currently have it clocked in with a B+, while the Rate Beer reviewers have ranked it in the 78th percentile of the Amber Ale style.

In the glass, this beer exhibits a deep, contemplative amber with a steady but moderate flow of carbonation bubbling to topside to produce a reasonable, lasting head with lace that has equally thoughtful stick-to-it-tiveness. An initial blast of bitterness bites the tongue but is quickly followed by a cake-like malt sweetness. Hop citrus notes are apparent throughout but do not dominate. This is a beer I could relish drinking with a group of environmental activist colleagues as we plot strategy for saving the world, one organic barley crop and one salmon safe hop farm at a time.


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