Tuesday, January 10, 2012 2:39 PM
When the women I know belly-up to a bar, they’re more likely to order a pint of beer than a glass of wine or a frilly cocktail. I’m a sucker for Surly’s CynicAle and Fulton’s Sweet Child of Vine, both from the rollicking Minneapolis beer-brewing scene. Still, drinking and brewing beer continue to be viewed as primarily male territory.
As it turns out, this split of the sexes is all wrong, says Bitch magazine’s Celena Cipriaso: Women have brewed beer since Babylonian times and female brewers permeate world folklore. Historian Alan D. Eames reinforces the depths of women’s claims on beer, explaining, “From its very inception some 8,000 years ago, every ancient society’s beer-creation myth tells the same story: The drink was a gift from a female deity to the women of that community.”
Cipriaso laments the loss of women’s roles as brewers and beer lovers. “For many years, women have been relegated to the background of the industry,” she writes, “both as targeted consumers and in terms of their place in beer history.”
But now, beer mugs are getting back into the fists of women. Gallup polls indicate that women account for a quarter of national beer sales, and what Cipriaso calls “female beer advocacy” is growing: Regional craft-beer brewers now include women in their ranks, organizations like the Pink Boots Society promote women’s involvement in the industry, and beer-centric social groups like Girls’ Pint Out keep the culture fun.
A new documentary, The Love of Beer, celebrates the women who are breaking into the Pacific Northwest’s brewing arena. Watch a trailer here and check the website to find out if the film is screening in your city. Cheers!
Sources: Bitch(audio only), The Love of Beer
Image by Ryan Bieber, licensed under Creative Commons.
Thursday, July 14, 2011 2:50 PM
A growing number of beer makers are incorporating green practices in their brewing operations, but a couple of brothers setting up a brewery in Chicago are setting their sights even higher, reports the Chicago Reader: They’re aiming for a zero-waste facility.
The key is that the New Chicago Brewing Company is not a freestanding operation but part of The Plant, a former meatpacking facility that is being renovated to house a bunch of symbiotic businesses under one roof. One makes pickles, one makes kombucha tea, and one is an aquaponics operation that will produce tilapia, greens, mushrooms, and herbs. The Reader reports:
The idea is to turn the whole compound into a zero-waste facility. The heat for brewing New Chicago’s beer will come from an anaerobic digester, which uses bacteria to convert organic waste—produced in the building and by neighboring food businesses—to biogas (and sludge, which becomes fertilizer). The gas is then cleaned, compressed, and run through a high-pressure turbine (repurposed from a military fighter jet engine) to create electricity and 850-degree steam. The brewery, in turn, will produce spent grains—which can be used to feed the tilapia, grow mushrooms, and feed the digester—and carbon dioxide—which will be piped to the plants in the building to make them grow faster.
Sounds like a great idea, though it has a ways to go yet. The brothers, Samuel Evans and Jesse Edwin Evans, don’t expect to be brewing beer till March 2012, and The Plant’s website shows pretty clearly that the facility is a DIY work in progress. But Samuel Evans figures that ultimately their production costs will be “insanely lower—like 75 percent lower” than a conventional brewery.
Once they’re up and running, New Chicago plans to produce 12,000 barrels of beer in the first year, to be sold to city bars and liquor stores. The Evanses also hope to sell beer on-site in a tasting room and to help aspiring brewers make and market their own concoctions.
It’ll be up to beer aficionados to decide how stellar the suds are. But if the Evans brothers realize their ambitions, New Chicago will help set a new standard for sustainable breweries—and others businesses too. “Nothing leaves our brewery except beer,” they write on the New Chicago website. “Imagine if that were true for all production businesses.”
Source: Chicago Reader, The Plant, New Chicago Brewing Company
Diagram by Matt Bergstrom.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011 11:48 AM
Many craft beer brewers are taking measures to be more sustainable, but few of them have taken things as far as the Alaskan Brewing Company. The company makes its beers, including its flagship Alaskan Amber Ale, in the fogbound southeastern Alaska city of Juneau, which is accessible only by sea or air, and sells them in 10 western states. Plant manager Curtis Holmes tells Triple Pundit that being way off the road has pushed the brewery to hone efficiency and cut waste:
Rural Alaska isn’t exactly where you’d expect to find a test market for new technology, but brewing in Alaska’s remote location creates new challenges which can make sustainable practices become more cost effective, compared to living somewhere else. When you consider that all of our raw materials (except for water) have to be shipped over 900 miles by barge from Seattle, it can seem like a crazy idea to operate a packaging brewery in Juneau, Alaska. But we’ve found some innovative ways to mitigate our operating costs, reduce waste and decrease our local and global footprint.
Among the brewmeisters’ green moves: They recycle everything they can, including the carbon dioxide from their fermentation process, which keeps it from being released into the atmosphere and cuts down on the CO2 they ship from Seattle. They got a new mash press that helps them save a million gallons of water a year. And they are installing a new biomass steam boiler, which will be fueled entirely by waste grain and will supply 70 percent of the entire brewery’s energy needs.
It’s getting to be a pretty tight loop—except for the beer itself, of course, which goes out to beer lovers’appreciative palates and then takes a different path into the waste stream. But as my colleague Brad Zellar recently wrote, some scientists are even working on a way to recycle that into hydrogen fuel.
Source: Triple Pundit
Image by Alaskan Dude, licensed under Creative Commons.
Monday, May 03, 2010 4:35 PM
A new brewery in North Carolina is attempting to turn southern-style dishes into sudsy pints. Oxford American reports that Fullsteam Brewery is experimenting with all sorts of unique regional flavors including scuppernong grapes, kudzu, pawpaws, figs, and sweet potatoes as part of their “plow-to-pint” philosophy that celebrates locally grown southern goodness.
“We’re fermentation opportunists,” the brewery’s president told the magazine. “All we’re trying to do is to ferment what we farm and forage as brewers have been doing for thousands of years and to create a new approach to a Southern beer style.”
Source: Oxford American
Image by Rachel Zack, licensed under Creative Commons.
Monday, March 29, 2010 2:42 PM
Producing beer or wine can leave a significant eco-footprint: Both require water-intensive processes and, as the Berkeley-based environmental magazine Terrain reports, “even mid-size breweries can generate tens of thousands of tons of solid waste each year.” But Terrain brings good tidings, too, of a handful of Northern California breweries and wine companies making sustainable strides, harnessing their waste and byproducts to power their own production processes. Here's just one example:
The view from atop Chico, California’s Sierra Nevada Brewing Company roof is breathtaking. Blue skies and sun—the first clear day the region has seen in weeks—shine on a dizzying quilt of 10,000 rectangular solar panels. The brewery’s 200,000 square feet of blue silicon plates make it one of the country’s largest private solar arrays, but a row of large silos off to the left offers another glimpse of the company’s attempts to operate off the grid.
Each of those silos contains almost 25,000 gallons of beer. To craft that beer, brewers boil the grains, filter out the solids, cool the product, then add yeast to the liquid. That slurry sits in fermenters—the silos—for ten to fourteen days. Yeast, a single-celled organism, eats sugars from the malt and hops. As it digests its food, the yeast exhales carbon dioxide and produces alcohol. But instead of releasing the greenhouse gas into the air, Sierra Nevada diverts it to a storage tank, where it is cleaned and pressurized. It later plays a vital role in the brewery’s operations, adding carbonation to some of the brews and pushing beer from one boiler to another via a labyrinthine series of tubes and pipes. “Our philosophy is a closed-loop approach,” says Cheri Chastain, Sierra Nevada’s sustainability coordinator. “We take the byproducts of brewing and use them for something we need.”
This both saves money and reduces greenhouse gasses, she says. “Carbon dioxide is usually a big purchase for carbonation and dispensing,” Chastain explains. “With the recovery system in place, we’re not releasing carbon dioxide and we’re supplying a hundred percent of what we need. It’s a free fuel source and we have it on-site, so we might as well use it.”
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 5:40 PM
I like beer, especially distinctive and flavorful craft brews, and I’m an environmentalist. So I was disappointed to learn that the beer-brewing process is incredibly water-intensive, using six to eight gallons of water for every gallon of beer produced. Fortunately, some green-minded brewers are finding ways to reduce their water use, as well as to conserve energy and other resources.
Sustainable Industries reports in its February issue that Full Sail Brewing in Hood River, Oregon, the nation’s ninth largest craft brewery, has taken on water conservation with great zeal, reducing its water use to just 3.45 gallons for each gallon of beer brewed. The brewery also operates on a four-day workweek to cut down on water and energy use.
“We’re dedicated to operating our brewery in the most socially and environmentally sustaining manner possible, while producing world-class ales and lagers of the highest quality,” Full Sail’s website states, throwing in a nod toward the Columbia Gorge area’s natural beauty: “Let’s face it—without this heavenly environment, there would be no heavenly brews.” Read more on the “Responsibility” page of the Full Sail website.
Since I live in the Midwest, near the Great Lakes watershed, I was encouraged to see that many brewers in the Great Lakes region attended an event last October, the Great Lakes Craft Brewers and Water Conservation Conference, that’s been called the first independent gathering to bring together craft brewers, policymakers, and nonprofit organizations to discuss water conservation.
A blogger known unfortunately as the Beer Wench, Ashley Routson, wrote about the conference and the underlying water resource issues. Despite Routson’s limited grasp of environmental issues—she states that water shortages and global warming “are extremely controversial and both are disputed,” which sounds like Denial Inc. talking—she nonetheless compiles some enlightening statistics about declining worldwide water supplies.
One commenter on her post, home brewer Brian Cendrowski, conjures a vivid picture of brewery water use: “I spent a few days interning at a small craft brewer, and it was an eye-opening experience how much water was used throughout the process. It was a like a water park. I felt like I should have had my bathing suit on. Part of the issue for breweries is that everything has to be cleaned and sanitized so thoroughly. That requires water.”
How does the green-beer discussion affect my world? Well, I often drink a local craft brew, Summit Extra Pale Ale, in part because it’s a great beer and in part because I don’t like to buy brews shipped across the country or the world, a carbon-intensive undertaking. (Eat locally, drink locally.) But I don’t see any evidence of environmental consciousness on Summit’s website, let alone in its beer packaging: The 12-pack cartons that hold the best-selling Extra Pale Ale don’t boast of recycled content or even indicate their own recyclability. However, I was encouraged to catch a glimpse of Summit owner Mark Stutrud in a YouTube video report from the Great Lakes conference. Perhaps he was taking notes and is about to unveil some great new green initiatives. In the meantime, I think I’ll pick up a six-pack of Full Sail as a vote of confidence with my wallet.
The next Great Lakes Craft Brewers and Water Conservation Conference will be held October 18 and 19 in Milwaukee and Plain, Wisconsin.
Source: Sustainable Industries (article not available online), Beer Wench, Great Lakes Craft Brewers and Water Conservation Conference
Image by wickenden, licensed under Creative Commons.
Thursday, October 29, 2009 4:50 PM
The spookiest day of the year is just around the corner—and the alt-press has been gearing up for weeks. So hold out your virtual goodie bags and let us load them up with links to everything from the best pumpkin ales and vegan Halloween candy, to expertly carved pumpkins and how to mind your spooky manners. Here’s wishing you a very alternative holiday.
—Trick-or-treating? Forgo the plastic pumpkin pail. Craft has DIY instructions for recycling a t-shirt into a trick-or-treat bag.
—VegNews has the Official Guide to Vegan Halloween Candy. Too much candy? Discover reports on two charity-minded Michigan dentists’ cash-for-candy scheme.
—Psychology Today offers advice on Halloween etiquette, including how to signal to others whether or not you’re handing out treats.
—Did you know you can recycle candy wrappers? Our sister publication Natural Home lists some less-obvious ways to green your Halloween.
—For the adults, Imbibe recommends a seasonal selection of spicy pumpkin ales, one of which gets a second thumbs-up from Paste’s editor in chief.
—Mental Floss rounds up classic Halloween TV specials, as well as some creative ways to carve pumpkins. Creative Review also has a nice (albeit small) gallery of illustrators’ art pumpkins.
—Banish boring pumpkin seeds: Natural Solutions recommends roasting pepitas with a pinch of chili-lime seasoning; Mothering shares a promising recipe for pumpkin seed pesto ravioli.
Sources: Craft, VegNews, Psychology Today, Natural Home, Discover, Imbibe, Mental Floss, Creative Review, Natural Solutions, Mothering
Image by foundphotoslj, licensed under Creative Commons.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009 4:53 PM
A frosty, cold beer can aid patients before and after surgery, according to the anecdotal evidence in the Journal of Irreproducible Results. The article details the many benefits that beer has over acetaminophen—like Tylenol—including helpful vitamins, minerals, and sleep-aid properties. Drinking beer also involves the physical activity of arm curls, which is largely absent in the administration of acetaminophen. Medicate responsibly.
Journal of Irreproducible Results
(Article not available online.)
Monday, February 09, 2009 12:32 PM
In 1979 there were 44 beer breweries operating inside the United States, and the American palate was dominated by Budweiser, Pabst, and other colored water masquerading as beer. Today there are more than 1,400 breweries pumping out new chocolate stouts, double bocks, and other craft brews. Greg Beato writes for Reason that this renaissance in beer making was made possible by the repeal of some prohibition-era laws that regulated home brewing.
One brewery riding this wave of great beer is Dogfish Head, a company that tries to create brews that can’t be judged on regular beer standards. “We are trying to explore the outer edges of what beer can be,” Dogfish Head’s 39-year-old owner, Sam Calagione told the New Yorker. The company creates beers that are far more bitter and alcoholic than the stuff found in most supermarkets, though Calagione rejects the term “extreme beer” as a pejorative. Dogfish Head's swashbuckling approach, including a quest to create the biggest wooden barrel since prohibition out of an obscure Paraguayan wood, has catapulted the company from being the one of the country’s smallest beer makers to the thirty-eighth largest.
Dogfish Head may be helping the United States make up for lost beer time, but north of the border, the connection to beer may run a bit deeper. As evidence, see this Beer Map of Canada from Geist.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008 9:37 AM
Japan seems to have decidedly more fun with their space program than their fellow astronauts. Just two months after heralding their space-launched paper airplanes, Japanese brewer Sapporo has announced the development of beer brewed from “Sapporo Space Barley.” The barley seedlings spent five months aboard the Russian Research Modules of the International Space Station before coming back to Earth for planting, harvesting, and fermentation.
The batch produced 100 liters of beer, most of which will be used for studies on the “Impact of Extreme Environmental Stresses on Barley” (an experiment I wouldn’t mind being a part of) and the possibility of brewing in space. The brewery is doing a small public tasting in January, but alas, the brew apparently tastes just like regular beer.
(Thanks, Boing Boing)
Image courtesy of ronin691, licensed under Creative Commons.
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