What to Look for
Due to the recent boom in independent UK breweries, there is a lot of choice when it comes to beer and fortunately, a lot of environmentally friendly choices. 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. Whilst aluminium puts more strain on the environment to produce than glass, the lighter weight reduces travel emissions which puts the two on equal footing unless a company is using electric vehicles or is local. Additionally, look for companies using recycled materials in their packaging.
Another issue with beer is the growing of the ingredients. Many companies will use pesticides when growing their malt and barley, so it is important to look for those using organic methods. When it comes to processing the beer, some uses Isinglass, a substance found in fish bladders, to remove the yeast. There are environmental and animal rights issues associated with this so we recommend going for a vegan/vegetarian certified brand.
The brewing process also requires a lot of energy and water for heating, cooling and moving of the liquid. For this reason, we recommend companies that use renewable energy and have policies around their water consumption and wastewater disposal.
Finally, there can be a lot of waste product at the end of the brewing process, especially barley. Look out for companies recycling this rather than letting it go to landfill and produce harmful emissions.
The Brand: In August 2020, Brewdog become a carbon negative company, double offsetting their scope 1, 2 and upstream scope 3 carbon.
Despite this, they acknowledge that their key priority is reducing emissions in the first place. They have put into place a plan to make all of their direct operations net zero by 2022.
To achieve this they are:
- Using direct wind power
- Building an anaerobic digestor plant which will turn their waste water into green gas and clean water to be reused in their brewery, as well as organic fertiliser and food grade CO2
- Installing a CO2 recovery system to capture CO2 produced during fermentation and use it downstream to carbonate their beers
- Try to source their ingredients as locally as possible, at their brewery in Columbus, US, they are installing their very own hop farm to reduce travel emissions
- Electrifying their fleet, from April, they will be delivering beer directly to their London customers in the UK’s first Electra 19-tonne vehicle.
The Product: Brewdog have a huge range of IPAs, lagers and more than one 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.
The Brand: 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 avoided carbon emissions.
Beyond this, they give all profits to charity, not shareholders, to fund systematic change and fix the food system, 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.
Towards the end of last year, they began their Rise Up campaign to raise awareness for the impact of our food system on the environment. They released limited edition beers and encouraged consumers to write to their local MPs.
The Product: Toast currently have four main beers on offer available to order in cans or bottles online. They are also now stocked in Co-ops around the UK. Beyond their main beers they often do collaborations to create innovative, special edition beers. Their most recent one has been with Warburtons to turn surplus crumpets into delicious beer.
Keep up to date with their collaborations through their website or social media.
The Brand: 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 was built with double glazing, lots of natural lighting and insulation to maximise efficiency. Yet, they took it even further with solar panels to provide electricity and excess is dispersed to the National Grid.
Moreover, reed beds recondition waste water and feed it back into the river Arun, with the approval of the Environment Agency. Waste with higher protein levels are purified by anaerobic digester, producing new energy. Water with a high yeast level is taken off site for use as a soil conditioner.
Beyond the brewery process, they have considered the impact of their waste, with used hops and grains going to local farmers to feed animals. The waste heat from beer chillers is captured and completely heats the officers and visitors centre.
Our favourite thing, however, 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.
The Product: The brewery is in West Sussex, where you can speak to their knowledgeable staff to find your favourite beer.
If you’re not local however, the beer can be ordered online or you can use their locater to see whether a pub or stockist near you sells their beer. They have a range of bottled, draught and seasonal beers from stout to bitters, as well as most of them being suitable for vegans.
We try our best to research and find the best environmentally-friendly companies to recommend here. However, if you have any suggestions that we might not know of, or disagree with any of our recommendations, please get in contact: firstname.lastname@example.org . We always want to learn more about the companies with the potential to save our future.