Of Green Beer and GREEN Beer

The ReGeneration is on the move! To make it easier for customers, Dell employees and stakeholders to find and participate in our conversations about the environment, we’re moving the best of our ReGeneration.org blog over here to Direct2Dell.  You’ll find the same great posts about what’s news in “green” business and technology, along with the green tips so many of you tell us you love. Join the conversation! 

mantisRegular readers of the ReGeneration blog know that there are few topics I enjoy covering more than what is going on in the world of brewing beer.  That it pops up on environmental blogs quite a bit should tell you that breweries are playing a big role in the sustainability movement.  They are championing green energy efforts and are engaging in live experiments on sustainability, no matter the cost or return on investment.  What’s more, they are often collaborating with their competitors to share best practices and try out new ideas.

As an enthusiast of liquid bread, it should come as no surprise that St. Patrick’s Day is one of my favorite holidays of the year (the fact that I have an Irish surname is really just an excuse I use for coming in late to work the next day).  In the spirit of the holiday, I thought I’d share a few things the eco-minded beer drinker should consider when purchasing their next six pack.

Buy Organic
hops The environmental reasons for purchasing organic beers are pretty much the same as for any other agricultural product – pesticides used for non-organics take a huge toll on the ecosystems they come from, non-organic fertilizers often stay in the food and soil long after they have outlived their usefulness and non-organic crops rely on pesticides and fertilizers that have to be shipped in from elsewhere, adding to each plant’s carbon footprint.  Therefore, while organic goods may cost more than their non-organic counterparts, the environmental advantages to buying organics outweigh the costs.  Perhaps most importantly, speaking from my own experience, organic beers tend to taste better.  No corners are cut on the ingredient quality, and the results translate well to the pint glass.  

Buy Local
Nowhere does the old “think global, act local” maxim ring truer than when it comes to buying locally produced goods.  Fortunately, for the beer enthusiast, local craft breweries have been spreading like wildfire in the last 20 years.  The advantages of drinking locally are twofold.  Not only are you doing your bit to cut down on your beer’s shipping-related carbon emissions, but you are also actively supporting your local economy (which is especially important considering today’s economic environment).  Plus, it’s fun supporting your home team on the many beer-related online forums, but be warned – local drinkers around the world are a passionate lot and the debates can get quite heated!

Brew Your Own
brew Speaking of acting locally, nothing is more local than your own garage, kitchen or backyard.  While it’s doubtful that you are growing your own grains and hops in your garden, with homebrewing you are effectively eliminating the carbon emissions related to bringing a finished beer to your home.  Ok, if you wanted to get really nitpicky, you could calculate the shipping emissions related to the food you eat that provide you with the energy you need to brew.  And while brewing does take energy to heat and cool the wort, Zymurgy, an excellent brewing magazine,  has published a timely article on ways to make delicious low-energy brews.  Brewing is also an extremely rewarding process that helps you appreciate what goes into making your beer as well as giving you complete control over what goes into your libation.  If done right, even the simplest homebrews will turn out much better than any beer you can buy at the store.

Following just one of these suggestions will go a long way towards truly greening your St. Paddy’s Day celebrations.  If you’ve got more suggestions for us related to environmentally responsible beers, let us know.  I’m especially interested in learning about local breweries around the world.  As always, be safe and responsible when drinking.  Sláinte agus táinte!

About the Author: Todd D