All around the world, craft brewers are looking to reduce their environmental footprint. Which proves that ‘green’ beer is not just a St Patrick’s Day phenomenon
James Squire

11 Jul 2014 - 3:50 PM  UPDATED 24 Jul 2014 - 2:36 PM

Because craft beer lovers are generally awesome, progressive, socially conscious, environmentally aware (not to mention incredibly good-looking) people, it stands to reason that many breweries around the world – including the James Squire brewery – are looking for ways to make their product as environmentally sound as it is delicious.

We take a look at some of the brewers who are putting their money where their mouths are when it comes to reducing their carbon footprint.

Malt Shovel Brewery, Camperdown, NSW

If the name sounds familiar, that’s because the Malt Shovel Brewery is home to the James Squire craft beer range. The brewery takes its environmental and sustainability responsibilities very seriously. It is accredited to ISO14001 Environmental Management System standards, which ensures the Malt Shovel Brewery is compliant to environment law and has action plans in place.

‘We recycle everything we use and all organic waste is taken to a bioreactor for processing to biogas,’ says Jeff Potter, Head Brewer at the Malt Shovel Brewery. ‘We have also just converted all mercury vapour lamps in the brewery to low-energy LED lighting.’

In terms of future plans, Jeff reveals that the brewery is investigating the installation of state-of-the-art passive cooling and heating systems, while various solar panel options are also being considered.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Chico, USA

The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in the United States has been brewing craft beer since 1980. It has always fully embraced the ‘self-sufficiency’ philosophy. Specifically, it creates about 60 per cent of its own electricity via a combination of solar panels (10,573 of them!) and hydrogen fuel cells. Add to this heat recovery units used on boilers and brew kettles, efficient lighting systems and natural light solutions, and you’ve got one very eco-friendly craft brewery.

‘In the early days, there was no such thing as small-scale brewing equipment,’ the company says. ‘Everything we used was built or repurposed for the brewery. Back then, “reduce, reuse, recycle” wasn’t a catchphrase, but a business model. This hardscrabble ethos and our roots in Northern California helped solidify our commitment to the environment. We have been recognised locally, statewide and nationally for our commitment to reducing our environmental impact.’

Hofmühl Brewery, Eichstätt, Germany

In a world first, the Hofmühl Brewery (or Privatbrauerei Hofmühl, to be completely accurate) is set to become completely self-sufficient by 2018. While it has been using a solar thermal system for many years (which has saved it more than 50,000 litres of heating oil per year), Hofmühl announced in October 2013 that it would be supplemented by a combined heating and power plant that will utilise fuel from brewer grains (biomethane) to generate all its power.