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Wild Green

Former Utne Reader senior editor Keith Goetzman on environmental issues from climate change to composting.


Alaskan Brewery Is on Green Beer Frontier

 by Keith Goetzman


Tags: beer, green living, energy efficiency, recycling, sustainable business, sustainability, biomass, environment, Keith Goetzman,

Alaskan Amber beerMany 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.