Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Environmental Impact of Beer 2

Hi all and welcome to that mad time of the year called Christmas,

After nearly 2 years after the original post I did on this topic, I have found it is now the most viewed post I have done on this blog, and feel like revisiting it. As I have just finished my last day of work for the year, and as of the start of next year will become a permanent part-time member of Mountain Goat Brewery, I guess the question of social/environmental/etc conscious again comes to mind. I guess after over 3 years of being a casual worker, it has been easier for me to not focus on this much in terms of my work environment, as it sometimes changed on a daily basis. However, it has been something I am somewhat conscious of in general, through the original post on this subject. Also, I can remember the appreciation I had for a removalist company called Go Green I did some work with, who used vehicles that were fuelled by old cooking oil and negated their carbon emissions through their work practices.

Anyway, doing a round of research, I found this article, which I am happy to say is Australian based, and actually mentions Mountain Goat. As for point 1, after 4 months of filling kegs at Mountain Goat (actually filled 99 today), I would hazard a guess that on average a keg there is filled 12-15 times a year. This aspect is helped by the fact that probably 10 kegs a week go across the bar that is in the same building as the brewery. In terms of transportation then, it was actually just me with a trolley that moved about 10 kegs to the bar today. This then also connects to point 3...mind you, Goat now sends their beer across Australia and have started exporting to the U.S., and am unsure if this is being offset in any way. I guess the other thing with point 3, is that this is probably the point where I fall down the most in my own consumption of beer, as I am happy to try imported beers, and as I have found over the past few years, am very happy to travel to Ireland, the U.S, and a few countries in mainland Europe (as regular readers of this blog will already know) and try beers I find (and sometimes go to just have the beers I already enjoy in the place they come from) there.
I do also like the fact that Goat collect and use rainwater off their roof, use solar power, try and give as much of their used grain to farmers, have an organic beer (which became more important to me after reading Rachel Carson's 'Silent Spring' this year), and saw the clause in my contract today about the 'ride to work' bonus (I wonder if I still get that for walking to work?).

Going backwards to point 2, I do remember being impressed when doing the Coopers Brewery tour and hearing about the co-generation plant. I am sure for the guide at least it was one less question I asked that was just about the beer itself. I have also heard that Anderson Valley Brewing Company has the tag of 'Solar powered beer', and Brooklyn Brewery is one of the greenest breweries in the world. When I did the Cascade Brewery tour earlier this year, was interested to see that they actually reuse the carbon dioxide naturally produced during fermentation to carbonate their soft drink line. I am sure there are many other examples out there, so please let me know if you find more.

Of course, I still brew my own beer to cover point 4 in the article, and am even happy to say we have moved on from bottles to kegs ourselves this year, not only meaning less effort in packaging beer for consumption, but now less chance of wasting bottles from accidental smashing, or exploding from some of our experiments in beer. I guess this is the only improvement we have made since I last posted on this subject.

I guess bringing this to mind at Christmas time is also poignant for me, as we see consumerism take over our lives at this time, and think more about the things we could have, rather than appreciating and retaining what we already have. For me, the environment is one of those things, and so will be enjoying 2 weeks of summer days on the family farm and our little garage on the block of land we had had by the beach for 30-odd years, and still done very little to change it from the days where school summer holidays were done in pitched tents on the block.
I hope this Christmas period you can also enjoy the simple things in life, and appreciate even the simple things in life have an impact on the world around us. As many of you seem to agree, it is something worth questioning, even in something like beer.

Merry Christmas (Ale) and a Happy Brew Year to you all,


PS: While I doubt it will happen where I am going, I'll let you know if I try any interesting beer experiences once I get back from my holiday.

1 comment:

Jarrod said...

Great post mate. Hopefully enough people start making a difference.