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Brewing for a better world

Craft Beer Sign

With a goal to encourage global food waste reduction & sustainability, Diners Club International® aims to recognize and partner with organizations who aspire and promote the same. It’s a part of the human experience to explore the world and use its resources, but replenishing the earth is essential to continuing to enjoy its beauty.  

Educating ourselves on the environmental effects of producing our favorite products is a great start. Then we can make a point to support companies who are advancing ways to reduce, reuse, or recycle their materials. 

According to the Brewers Association, there are more than 9,500 independent breweries in the United States alone, bringing $26.8 billion to the economy and accounting for 27% of the total US beer market. The boom also means most Americans now live within 10 miles of a local brewery, which is a wonderful statistic for all beer lovers out there–but there’s a catch.

Such a fast global expansion means the industry’s sustainability credentials have struggled to keep up. Now a large proportion of global breweries are being hit with environmental dilemmas, from water shortages and reduced crop supply to dealing with waste by-products and the increased carbon footprint of global shipping. 

Thankfully, there's an industry-wide movement to tackle these issues head on with creative thinking and tech innovations which aim to lessen water usage, recirculate waste, and ensure customers can continue to sip their favorite beers.

Water, water everywhere?

A study by the University of Vermont showed it takes between three to seven barrels of water to make a single barrel of beer, as it’s vital at every stage of the process, from growing the crops and cleaning equipment to adding to the brew itself. 

In a world that’s facing hotter summers and higher instances of drought and wildfire, it’s become clear that breweries need to think carefully about where they get their water from and how they dispose of it. 

This is the most pressing deep in the Australian outback at Alice Spring Brewing Co. Surrounded by dessert, fresh water is an incredibly precious commodity and founder Kyle Pearson is aware of his company’s impact on the ecosystem from the moment he established the brewery in 2018. 

“I think everyone these days is conscious of their own impact on the planet, and it was no different for us setting up Alice Springs Brewing Co,” he explains. “Believe it or not, we have quite a plentiful supply of water here in Central Australia. However, it comes from the water tables under the ground and is extracted by bore. And this untreated water is horrible to brew with, so we use reverse osmosis to make it suitable for our needs.”

Brewer Checking Beer

He goes on to explain that not a drop goes to waste: “We have a very efficient brewhouse which recaptures water from cooling to be reused for future brewing and all of our organic waste is collected by local farmers to feed livestock and grow plants.”

Elsewhere, innovations are focused on purification technologies to avoid freshwater use altogether. Some of the most pioneering practices are found on the shores of the South Atlantic in Argentina, where Antares brewery launched a beer made using seawater. Admittedly, there's a slightly salty tang to the beer, but this gives it character. 

Growing concerns

Person Holding Fresh Hops

When it comes to raw materials, world events and climate change have impacted the cost and availability of grains, hops, and yeast. While many breweries are simply having to pay more for their products–and therefore pass the costs onto the consumer–others have found creative solutions to keep prices down and move away from the reliance of fluctuating global supply chains.

London’s B-Corp certified Toast Ale is a leading light in sustainable brewing and each of its beers are made using surplus bread from local bakeries. Since 2016, they’ve saved 2.6 million slices of bread from landfills, using 25% less malted barley than other breweries and saving 310,000 liters of water along the way. The brewery is also heavily engaged in climate activism, social enterprise, and striving for carbon neutrality by 2030. 

Back across the Atlantic, the brew team at Toronto’s Avling Brewery only need to head as far as the rooftop to pick hops from their sun-drenched roof garden. Any ingredient that isn’t produced on site is carefully selected from nearby farms to support local business and shine a light on lesser-known local Canadian ingredients.

This connection to the land is also amplified at Alaskan Brewing Company, which held green initiatives at its heart since it opened in 1986. “We have the privilege of handcrafting beer in one of the most majestic locations on earth,” explains co-founder Geoff Larson. “But this also brings special considerations and responsibilities in the way we brew. Whether it’s installing state-of-the-art CO2 capture systems to add fizz to the beers in our tap room or burning leftover grain to power the brewhouse, we're committed to a circular system that finds clever solutions for what many consider waste products.”

Going carbon neutral

Craft Beer Served on Tray

Thankfully for the planet, the craft beer community is tight knit and innovators are happy to share their learnings with others. In fact, Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing, which produced America’s first carbon neutral beer called Fat Tire, has published a clear, easy-to-follow guide for any brewery that wants to follow suit. 

“Without stronger climate action across our industry, the future of our communities, our planet, and our beers are at risk,” comments CEO Steve Fechheimer. “Of course, we need our elected officials to take bold action, but we also need to hold businesses to a higher bar, including our own. We hope other beer companies will join us in going carbon neutral as an important first step, so everyone can drink more sustainably.” 

It’s an important message and with passionate business owners and experienced brewers taking these climate issues seriously, it looks like the future of the craft beer industry is in safe hands – and we’ll cheers to that.


The information provided herein is sponsored by Diners Club International®. It is intended for informational purposes and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Content on this website may contain information from third parties and/or links to third-party websites. Diners Club International bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of this information.