How To Brew A Sustainable Beer
It ain't easy being green, so the saying goes and a great case in point is the beer industry. It’s an unfortunate reality that to create that wonderful nectar we love so much requires a lot of energy and a significant impact on the environment. From the harvesting of raw ingredients, water, transport, the energy-intensive brewing process, not to mention the waste products, it can all feel a bit overwhelming for those who care about the environment as much as they care about their beers. It’s no wonder A Local Beer and many in the industry have directed their own energy into pursuing ways to cut down on their carbon footprint and impact on the planet.
Carbon emissions from beer are significant, in fact, it takes a tree around two days to absorb the carbon created from one six-pack of beer. A novel way of minimising this carbon footprint is being implemented at Young Henrys in Sydney. You see algae can be up to five times more effective than trees at absorbing that CO2 from the atmosphere so Young Henrys teamed up with Sydney’s University of Technology to place a giant tank of algae on the brewery floor. The excess carbon dioxide created from the fermentation process gets pumped into that algae tank where it is converted in oxygen by the algae. Maybe be should be giving algae as much love as we give yeast in the brewing world.
Some of the other solutions to lessen our environmental impact like solar panels are relatively straightforward. At the risk of losing those who aren’t engineers or brewing nerds here, equipment like steam-to-water heat exchange systems, recapturing heat energy are effective ways to reduce energy use. Breweries like Stone and Wood, Brick Lane, and Moon Dog are some of the larger players who have done a great job in reducing their carbon footprint and communicating this amongst the industry and to the wider population.
The trouble can be that solutions like those above can be costly, resource-draining or simply beyond the scope of small to medium breweries like us. A Local Beer and others have looked at other ways to lessen our impact on the environment through Waste.
Reducing waste is easily within the realm of every brewer. Sending spent grain from brewing to farmers to feed their farm animals instead of filling a landfill site is a common process in the industry. Some brewers have started mixing the hop debris and sediment called trub (usually heading to our waterways) into this spent grain. Supposedly some cows now prefer this hop-infused grain and refuse to eat anything else!
One of the more bizarre and unconventional ideas around sustainability in beer was a collaboration with brewery BentSpoke with the Canberra Innovation Network. Highlighting the projected issues of grain shortages in the future, their Innovator beer used some unusual ingredients to replace some of the barley...namely crickets and black soldier fly larvae. The beer gained a lot of industry attention as you would imagine. Having tasted the beer myself straight from their brewhouse last year I can confirm that not only did the beer NOT taste of insects it was a delicious drop and perhaps gives us a glimpse into brewing in the future.
In an effort to address our impact on the environment, A Local Beer and Burnley have teamed up to tackle the issue of food waste and insecurity with their Fruits Of Our Labour Range. The Range establishes new, sustainable methods of using leftover produce to make seasonable limited release beers. We were shocked to find out just how much perfectly usable and edible food makes its way to landfill so we set about diverting some of this produce to somewhere far better - our brewery! And we couldn’t be more excited at this time as we have just announced the first release in the Range: Fruits Of Our Labour Banana Bread Brown Ale.*
The brew is made fresh sourdough bread, blow-torched bananas, vanilla extract, malted barley and fresh hops. Phillippa’s Bakery donated over 25kg of leftover bread that would have otherwise gone to waste and over 115kg of fresh bananas were sourced locally from a fruiterer.
Perhaps with a few more technological advances in the not too distant future, we might be saying "it's pretty easy being green."
*The Fruits of Our Labour Banana Bread Brown Ale Beer will also be available from selected retailers from August 28th. Check our website for more information.
There will also be plenty more future brews in the range for you to get your hands on. :)