GoEco Recommends: The Best Eco-Friendly Beers

Due to a boom in independent breweries, there is a lot of choice when it comes to beer, and fortunately many environmentally-friendly choices. But there are a few key things to avoid when it comes to purchasing your refreshing Friday night drink. Packaging and transport have a big part to play in beer’s carbon footprint. Glass production has a heavier environmental impact, but the lighter-weight of aluminium reduces travel emissions, putting the two on equal footing (unless a company is using electric vehicles for transport, or is local).

The agricultural methods used to grow ingredients is are also important when it comes to sustainability. Many companies use pesticides to grow their malt and barley, which can damage local wildlife and pollute water systems, and it is therefore best to go for an organic option. If you are a veggie or vegan, be sure to keep an eye out for Isinglass on the ingredients list too. The substance is obtained from fish swim bladders and used remove yeast during refinement, so make sure your beer is vegetarian/vegan society approved.

Brewing beer is an energy-intensive process, requiring significant amounts of water, compressed air, lighting and refrigeration. For this reason, we recommend companies that use renewable energy and have policies around their water consumption and waste water disposal. There can also be a lot of waste product at the end of the brewing process, especially barley. Our favourite companies recycle this rather than letting it go to landfill where it produces harmful emissions.

Our Top Picks…

Brewdog

Company: B-Corp certified as of February 2021, Brewdog are committed to great beer that is a force for good; ‘a fiercely independent business and ferociously protective of their home planet‘ in their own words. Brewdog is the world’s first carbon negative brewery, and from planting a tree for every multipack sold to their revolutionary launch of re-usable Loop packaging in selected trial stores, Brewdog are determined to do their bit for the environment.

Product: Brewdog have a huge range of IPAs, lagers and alcohol-free beer. We would hate to recommend a product without trying it and can confirm that we love the taste of Brewdog! Whether you prefer hops or something a bit lighter, there is beer for everyone. We recommend their mixed bundles so you can set up an at-home beer tasting session to discover your favourite.

Toast Ale

Company: Another B Corp fighting to change the world, Toast Ale are determined to stop food waste. The founders spotted an opportunity to use surplus bread to replace virgin barley meaning less land, water and energy use, plus lower carbon emissions. Beyond this, they give all profits to charity as opposed to shareholders, to fund systematic change and fix the food system, additionally donating meals made from surplus food. In their impact report, which is accessible and transparent, they detail their commitment to net zero emissions by 2030.

Product: Toast currently stock IPA, lager and and low-alcohol lager, in addition to a number of fascinatingly-flavoured beers in their latest Rise Up Series (think mango IPA, lemongrass lager, chocolate stout…), collaboratively developed with fellow Earth-friendly companies. Beyond their main beers, they often do collaborations such as the ‘Rise Up’ Series, so be sure to keep up to date with their collaborations through their website or social media. Toast ales are now available at Co-Ops around the UK, or directly from their site.

Hepworth Brewery

Company: Based in West Sussex, the independent brewery believe that hops, barley and yeast only produce fine beer when they are healthy and treated with respect, so source natural and local ingredients. Their brewery is built with double glazing, lots of natural lighting and insulation to maximise efficiency, and they’ve even taken it further with solar panels to provide electricity, with excess dispersed to the National Grid.

They utilise reed beds to recondition waste water and feed it back into the river Arun, and waste with higher protein levels is purified using an anaerobic digester, in turn producing new energy. Last but certainly not least, water with a high yeast level is taken off site for use as a soil conditioner.

Beyond the brewery process, they have also considered the impact of other waste, with used hops and grains going to local farmers to feed animals. The waste heat from beer chillers is captured and completely heats their offices and visitors centre. And perhaps our favourite part, is their truly innovative beer-source heat pump! Constructed in-house using domestic appliance parts, heat is sourced from the fermenting beer and re-routed to heat water for the boiler which starts the brewing process. In effect, the fermenting beer contributes to its own continuance; a truly circular process.

Product: The brewery is in West Sussex, where you can speak to their knowledgeable staff to find your favourite beer. And if you’re not local, the beer can be ordered online, or you can use their stockist locater to see whether a pub or shop near you sells their beer. They have a range of bottled, draught and seasonal beers from stout to bitters, and most are suitable for vegans.

We do our best to research and find the most environmentally-friendly companies to recommend at GoEco. However, if you have any suggestions that we might not know of, or disagree with any of our recommendations, please get in contact: hello@goeco.co.uk. We always want to learn more about the companies with the potential to save our future!

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