Raising the Bar

Eco-conscious microbreweries are going green

| January 19, 2006

We all know about the prospering green market in food, but what about green beer? Not the kind you drink on St. Patrick's Day, but the kind that's environmentally sustainable. There are plenty of beer drinkers in the Slow Food crowd who don't want to pollute their bodies with industrially produced macrobrews, and a handful of breweries are trying to quench their thirst.

Hugh Wilson taps into the burgeoning eco-beer revolution in Great Britain for The Independent. In a country known for its beer-making tradition, Wilson laments that '[f]our global brewers dominate the British beer industry, mass-producing what opponents characterise as homogenous plastic fizz.' Much the same could be said of American beers and suds worldwide.

The fact is, beer that's made with care often just tastes better. Connoisseurs know that Budweiser and Coors taste like water, not to mention the historically shady politics of the Coors family. It's the lagers, porters, pale ales, and stouts that are known for their taste, not the light beers that dominate dive bars and frat-boy refrigerators. But in spite of market dominance by conglomerates like Anheuser-Busch (take note of your favorite beer -- the company probably owns it), microbreweries have been popping up all over the world with surprising success. 'We're busier than ever,' James Campbell, the head brewer of Marble Beers, tells The Independent. Based in Manchester, the brewery makes five regular types of beer, and all their beers are organic and vegan.

That all beer isn't vegan may come as a shock. But many large-scale manufacturers use fish extracts to de-cloud their beers, a method shunned by Marble Beers. And there are options for vegans in the United States too. New Belgium Brewery in Colorado, known for its Fat Tire Amber Ale, makes all of its beers free of animal by-products. The company also has the distinction of being the 'first 100% wind-powered brewery' in the United States. And it's not alone.

Take Brooklyn Brewery, for example. Co-founder and President Steve Hindy decided to dole out some extra cash and convert his brewery's headquarters into one powered entirely by wind. In an interview with Satya magazine, Hindy said, 'people who say the windmills are ugly, or I don't want those on my horizon, that seems so stupid to me, because I think they're beautiful; and what they're doing is a beautiful thing.' Coming from a successful businessman, that's just beautiful.

Go there >> The Rise of Microbreweries

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