Craft Beer
Craft Beer, Water, and Drought in the West

Craft Beer, Water, and Drought in the West

Let’s face it, clean water makes great beer. Part of the whole culture surrounding craft breweries is sustainability. This is part of what makes them unique and what is drawing people in by the masses. Because 95% of the craft brew is water, many craft beer distributors are taking painstaking measures to conserve, reuse, and recycle in the especially drought sensitive west. Here are four craft breweries in the Western United States that are dedicated to conserving water in the brewing process without sacrificing quality.

New Belgium Brewing Company

New Belgium Brewing Company, based in Fort Collins, CO has linked their name synonymously with quality brews, as well as a philosophy toward how they are affecting the planet. The company reduces its water use by employing a steam condenser that captures and reuses the hot water that boils the barley
and hops in the production process to start the next brew. The steam is then redirected to de-ice the loading docks and heat the tile floors in cold weather.

New Belgium Brewing recently installed over 20 water submeters throughout their facility in order to identify and address areas for water efficiency improvements in the beer production process.

Horse & Dragon Brewing Company

Horse & Dragon Brewing is a small craft brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado. Their focus is all about balance. As one of Fort Collins’ many craft breweries, they seek to responsibly create craft brews and experiences enhancing balance in people’s lives, communities, and the environment.

As members of BreWater, they installed an oversized hot liquor tank when building the brewery in order to capture and reuse all of the water used in cooling the wort. Water travels through a heat exchanger to the hot liquor tank and is ready to be used in the next brew, or in cleaning the tanks.

Horse & Dragon took their water planning outside, too. They planned to landscape using drought-tolerant plants from the Gardens on Spring Creek.

Half Moon Bay Brewing Company

In response to California’s water shortages, Half Moon Bay Brewing Company has been making small batches of its Mavericks Tunnel Vision IPA with recycled wastewater, also known as gray water. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean toilet water! Gray water is treated water that’s been used in dishwashers, sinks, showers, or washing machines.

In 2014, owner Lenny Mendonca was approached by architect Russ Drinker, which in fact, is his real name. Drinker felt that if Californians truly wanted to make an impact on water usage, they need to focus more on recycling fresh water. Using advanced NASA technology, that is exactly what they are doing.

Bear Republic

A member of the Brewers for Clean Water Campaign, Bear Republic’s story begins like many others, with home brewing. Founded by 3rd and 4th generation Sonoma County residents, this craft beer maker is family-owned. They believe that sustainability and beer quality are equally important. They have achieved a 3.5 to 1 water use to beer produced ratio in their drought-stressed region. After extensive testing, they are installing the world’s first bioelectrically enhanced wastewater pretreatment plant.

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