Local Toronto brewery Steam Whistle has taken another step to green their beer (previously) by using growlers to serve and distribute their beer. A growler is essentially a large bottle of beer which can be refilled – and there’s the green aspect. By using growlers people consume less resource-intensive cans and bottles (yes those can be recycled).
Throughout North America growlers are growing in popularity thanks to craft brewers who care about beer. You should see if your local brewery supports growlers!
Before bottled beer became economical and common after industrialization in the mid-1800’s, in the US if one wanted beer outside of the saloon, it was usually draught beer filled and carried out in a growler, aka a “can” or “bucket” of beer. Many different containers (including pitchers, other pottery or glass jars and jugs, etc) were used to carry beer home or to work – the most common “growler” was a 2 quart galvanized or enameled pail as seen in these illustrations. The term Growler is thought to have originated from the sound of escaping CO2 causing the lid to rattle or growl. The current North American use of glass growlers is estimated to have kept over 1 billion cans and bottles from going landfill each year.
Beer is good and here at Things Are Good we do drink a lot of it. We also know that beer can be pretty intensive in water consumption and other resoruces, so I’m happy to share the news of eco-friendly brewers.
Located in Fort Collins, CO, right up the road from me, New Belgium may just be the pinnacle of eco-friendly beer brewing. In 1999, New Belgium became the largest private consumer of wind-powered electricity, and is an employee-owned business that prides itself on its environmental stewardship, adhering to the following creeds:
1. Lovingly care for the planet that sustains us.
2. Honor natural resources by closing the loops between waste and input.
3. Minimize the environmental impact of shipping our beer.
4. Reduce our dependence on coal-fired electricity.
5. Protect our precious Rocky Mountain water resources.
6. Focus our efforts on conservation and efficiency.
7. Support innovative technology.
8. Model joyful environmentalism through our commitment to relationships, continuous improvement, and the camaraderie and cheer of beer
They take full advantage of the more than 360 days of sunshine in Fort Collins by using UV blocking windows, sun-tubes, and light shelves; they use evaporative coolers, which condition their 55,000 square foot packaging hall with no compressors; and at their public events like their philanthropic bike festival, Tour de Fat, New Belgium celebrates bicycling as a viable form of alternative transport while a solar-powered stage provides sound for the day
Many breweries have stepped up their efforts to limit the negative environmental effects of brewing beer. Steam Whistle Pilsner has earned praise from many an environmentalist for their progressive steps toward becoming a green brewery.
The Toronto-based brewery gets its electricity from Bullfrog Power, which uses wind and low-impact hydroelectric sources. Its cooling is by Enwave, which uses cold water from deep in Lake Ontario, and new brewing equipment that captures steam cuts their wastewater by a third. Its trucks run on biofuels and, thanks to improved route planning, they cut the amount of fuel they used last year by more than 7,000 litres – while increasing sales.
Of course, Steam Whistle isn’t the only brewery improving their environmental standards: Brasserie McAuslan in Montreal and Molson Coors have both reduced their water use in recent years.