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Toasting Sustainability with Green Beer This St. Patrick’s Day

  • Written by Lynn Belken
  • March 17, 2024
Display of different sustainable beer brands.

Wisconsin boasts a reputation for cheese, cold winters, and cranberries (producing a whopping 60 percent of the nation’s cranberries!). However, it's also renowned for its beer breweries, notably Miller Brewing, situated in the heart of "Brew City," also known as Milwaukee, WI. You might be curious why someone in the energy efficiency industry is writing about beer. Well, with St. Patrick's Day upon us and the festive atmosphere taking hold, what better time to blend celebration with sustainability? Yes, I’m talking about green beer, but not the colored kind you might expect. Join me on a journey to uncover a different shade of green – of the sustainable variety. 

Reducing Your Beer-print 

Reducing a brewery's carbon footprint and promoting sustainability can be a challenging endeavor, especially considering that it takes between three to seven barrels of water to make one single barrel of beer.   

Climate change affects every facet of the brewing process from agriculture to production and distribution. Embracing sustainability practices helps mitigate environmental impact. From clean energy to investing in tree planting initiatives, here are a handful of examples of what breweries are doing to embrace sustainability:  

  • Investing in energy-efficient equipment and systems, such as LED lighting, energy recovery systems, energy management systems, brewing equipment with enhanced insulation, and automated temperature controls.  
  • Monitoring water usage and identifying areas of high consumption and installing low-flow fixtures or water-efficient equipment, with built-in water-saving features, to minimize water usage.  
  • Tapping into renewable energy sources like solar and wind power or purchasing renewable energy credits. 
  • Minimizing waste generation by composting organic waste or sending spent grain to farms where it serves as nutritious livestock feed instead of to landfills. 
  • Sourcing local ingredients to reduce transportation emissions and support local farmers and suppliers. 

Learn how our engineers and certified energy managers work directly with businesses (even breweries!) to help them optimize energy performance and save money.  

Ex-BEER-ience Green Beer for Yourself 

Wisconsin, known as the home of "Brew City," proudly hosts numerous local breweries committed to sustainability efforts. From energy and water conservation to eco-friendly practices, these breweries are dedicated to brewing green. Among them are: 

  • Badger State Brewing 
  • Capital Brewery 
  • Central Waters Brewing  
  • Milwaukee Brewing Company 
  • Lakefront Brewery  
  • New Glarus 

And if you're not in Wisconsin, fear not! You can still enjoy sustainable beer from craft, national, and international brands, including: 

  • Alaskan Brewing Company  
  • Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), whose brands include Budweiser, Stella Artois, and Corona  
  • Brooklyn Brewery  
  • Coors Light 
  • Heineken 
  • New Belgium Brewing Company  
  • Ninkasi Brewery  
  • Sierra Nevada  

For more options, online lists are readily available. Business Insider offers a list of breweries with sustainability and community focus, categorized by state. Additionally, Living a Stout Life and Forbes have both compiled lists of Certified B Corp breweries, recognized for their commitment to social, environmental, and sustainable impacts. 

Let's raise a glass to these breweries on St. Patrick's Day—and every day—for their dedication to green practices. And remember, don't forget to recycle the can or bottle when you're finished. Cheers!