Pint to Farm — Sustainable Tips for Craft Breweries

by Jesse Hiney

My last blog focused on legislation aimed at reducing the hurdles to developing craft breweries and the “Farm to Pint” movement. This blog flips the script focusing on sustainability initiatives—Pint to Farm and other environmental means to reduce environmental impact. Sustainability is a theme often linked to craft breweries. Sourcing local ingredients and supplying local enthusiasts in and of themselves are sustainable actions. There have been numerous articles touting the sustainable actions of various craft brewers ranging from packaging to waste disposal to energy production, from the smallest to the largest breweries and operations. All of these measures are sensible for the environment and most are sensible from an economic perspective. This blog identifies some of the more interesting, cost-effective and noteworthy sustainable measures employed by brewers.

Addressing waste is one of the easiest means to lessen environmental impact and cut costs. Several brewers have had success repurposing spent grains through local farms that use the grains as feed. Some report that a craft brewer donates spent grains to a dog biscuit bakery that uses the grain in their dog treats, and some brewers have used spent grains in kitchens as ingredients in baked bread. Composted spent grains have been found to be rich in nutrients and an excellent source of fertilizer. Taking it even further at least one brewer has developed a biomass steam boiler fueled by spent grain—significantly reducing fuel use and costs.

Several other bloggers have focused on the benefits of sustainable water usage. Sustainable means of water use include capturing rain water, the capture and reuse of process water and other methods that reduce the consumption gallons of water used per gallon of brew. Others have even developed means to capture the heat generated during the brewing process to generate hot water and even power to off-set other energy use.

Finally, as with many businesses, a number of brewers have turned to alternative means of energy generation—placing solar arrays on roofs or nearby property and using wind-generated electricity.

There are a number of cost-saving ways to green the brewing process, from curbing the waste stream and reducing water consumption, to using compostable materials and sustainable energy generation; the list above is just a taste. There is a variety of low-hanging measures that are available to fit the needs of any brewer’s sustainability initiatives. Many New York and national breweries are successfully implementing such measures to brew in a more efficient, cost-effective and environmentally conscious manner.

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Jesse Hiney