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Old 11-01-2009, 09:30 PM   #1
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Default Environmental Impact of Homebrewing

The deeper I get into this hobby, the more I become aware that it isn't the most sustainable activity I could be involved in.
The fuel used for growing and transporting the main ingredients, especially if they are imported, are one problem, while the more obvious one is all the water that I use.
Has anyone thought about these issues, and if so, are there any ideas about ways to soften the environmental blow of brewing a batch of the good stuff?
What do hip breweries like New Belgium and Rouge do?

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Old 11-01-2009, 09:34 PM   #2
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You can always grow your own hops; lots of brewers here do that. Growing and malting your own barley is a bit more difficult but some people have done that with success. Many homebrewers also collect their own water in rain barrels, reducing the dependence on municipal water. You can even harvest wild yeast right out of the air!

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Old 11-01-2009, 10:39 PM   #3
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pricey, but would get you renewable fired brewing. Think Strohs.....

http://www.stovetec.net/us/index.php...&id=8&parent=1

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Old 11-01-2009, 10:56 PM   #4
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I've spent a lot of time thinking about this as well. The chance to lessen the environmental impact of my love for beer is what drove me to try homebrewing in the first place. I'm guessing that just by not having to transport and recycle all the glass I used to go through has been a help already, but I'm still looking for ways to reduce impact. Other things I've done or plan to do:

  • Use locally made DME (Breiss is only about 50 miles from here)
  • Grow my own hops (will start this next year as I just moved)
  • Harvest/wash yeast
  • when buying hops or specialty grains, go domestic
  • Use grolsh-style bottles or keg (don't do either currently, but I don't like the single-use of bottlecaps)

Anyone used that stove buffalobrewer linked to? Looks interesting...
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Old 11-01-2009, 10:58 PM   #5
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I grow my own hops and use lots of rainwater. I recirculate all of my cooling water. I recycle thousands of bottles. I am not too worried about the impact of growing wheat and barley- it's gonna happen no matter what. I think my brewing for myself is a lot less impact than 1 customer's share of what the big boys do.

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Old 11-01-2009, 11:00 PM   #6
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The transportation costs are minor compared to the cost for moving pre-made beer, because the heaviest ingredient, water, is delivered by pipe. As far as the amount of water, I only use 2-3 gallons per gallon of beer, but some people seem to use much more.

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Old 11-01-2009, 11:08 PM   #7
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I've actually been concerned with the 'carbon footprint' of making alcohol! Yeast farts contribute to global warming.
I can't imagine beer and wine being as bad as distillates. Depends on how drunk I get, I guess...

My wart chiller flows into my swimming pool, add water when needed.

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Old 11-01-2009, 11:21 PM   #8
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I would think that brewing your own beer would be more "green" than buying commercial. Commercial beer uses some of the same ingredients that we use and they have to get it shipped to there brewery. Then once the beer is made, a distributor has to distribute it. I would think that carbon footprint would be bigger than the ingredients form my homebrew.

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Old 11-01-2009, 11:30 PM   #9
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I was thinking about this the other day... Between the amount of propane used, the wasted water, and the yeast farts there must be some ways to cut down on the environmental impact.

The point about the cost of transporting beer is a good one though, and definitely sets my mind at ease a bit.

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Old 11-01-2009, 11:31 PM   #10
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And then there is the oft missed environmental cost of commercial products: sales and marketing. The sales and marketing folks have a huge amount of waste in their processes. Homebrewers have none of these costs.

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