Continuing my series on why people drink craft beer it is time to discuss the environmental impacts of beer.  This was one of the two comments people have left me as to why they drink craft beer.  Let me start by saying this topic really shouldn’t be done in one post.  Today I will give a brief overview of the environmental impact of drinking local.  Come back next Monday for an overview some sustainable practices.  This topic may stretch out into a few weeks.

The Environmental Side of Drinking Local
Shipping beer drastically increases the carbon footprint and the environmental impact.  Water is heavy so the closer the ingredients get to the consumer before adding water the better.  However, even deeper you could look for local breweries with locally sourced ingredients.  I recently spoke with a brewer who made his first organic beer.  He had to import the hops from Germany in order to meet the organic requirement.  He and I pondered whether there was any benefit to buying organic as the shipping more than likely cancelled out the benefit.

Additionally, there are local breweries that are not actually local.  An excellent example of this is Kona Brewing on Hawaii’s big Island.  Kona brews on the island for draft only.  So any bottles consumed on the island are actually made on the mainland and shipped over.  So in reality you are not drinking a local beer if you are buying six packs of Kona in Hawaii.  I learned this fact on a tour of their Kona facility and it bothered me, because I felt many people on the islands where buying the “local beer.”

Unfortunately not all brewers readily identify where their ingredients come from or even where they are brewed.  We as a craft community need to push brewers to give us the information we need to be informed consumers.


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