10 Must-Do Steps for Sustainable Homebrewing

10 Must-Do Steps for Sustainable Homebrewing

10 Must-Do Steps for Sustainable Homebrewing

In the craft beer world, solar panels and ambitious recycling programs have become the norm. Microbreweries from Alaska to Colorado to Massachusetts strive to be sustainable, local, and organic. But there’s an even greener way to drink beer: Make handcrafted ales in the comfort of your own home.

The 1.2 million U.S. homebrewers have some advantages when it comes to sustainability. They brew smaller batches and thus use fewer resources. They almost universally use kegs or reuse bottles, and they have no need for distribution, which is one of the most resource-intensive parts of commercial brewing.

However, many homebrewers still have room for improvement on the sustainability front. Homebrewers tend to be less efficient and more likely to use malt extract and imported ingredients than craft brewers, according to the USDA. But that doesn’t have to be the case. An eco-minded homebrewer can take a number of measures to green their brewing operations.

Homebrewing's History

Never brewed? Check out one of these excellent manuals:

1. Transition to Grains

Beer consists of four primary ingredients: water, barley, hops, and yeast. Most homebrewers begin with kits containing tubs of malted barley extract (barley that’s been malted, mashed, and concentrated into a syrup). Malt kits are a great place to start but, as with all food preparation, using less-processed ingredients gives the brewer more control over the finished product and more ability to purchase sustainably grown, minimally packaged ingredients. Moreover, brewing with grains usually produces better tasting beer, and the better the beer, the more dedicated the homebrewer. Transitioning to grains is a great first step toward sustainability. When using a malt recipe, look for an extract that doesn’t contain additives (most commonly corn syrup).

2. Choose Sustainable Equipment

Go for stainless steel and glass equipment over plastic options, which degrade over time and have a limited lifespan. Even small abrasions or scratches on plastic buckets can harbor bacteria and spoil a batch of beer, so many brewers go through a lot of buckets. Be sure to recycle them when they’re no longer usable. Before buying equipment, check Craigslist and other used sites for gently used carboys, kettles, coolers, and chillers.

3. Go Local and Organic

Today homebrewers have the option to brew with ingredients grown all over the world. For sustainability purposes, domestic usually beats imported, and less packaging is always best.

How local can a homebrew be? It depends on the location. Most barley is grown in Montana, Washington, North Dakota, and Idaho. The Pacific Northwest is home to the majority of commercial hops production. But with new local economies sprouting up to keep pace with the craft beer industry, a hops or barley farm could be nearby. Ask at a local brew shop: Brew-shop employees tend to be friendly, helpful, and responsive to customer concerns. Support them and be sure to express your desire for sustainable ingredients.

Choosing organic ingredients supports healthier ecosystems and helps ensure pesticide residues don’t end up in beer. In one study, beer grown with conventionally grown ingredients had detectable levels of five pesticides, including significant levels of Imidacloprid, an insecticide used heavily on conventional hops. Imidacloprid was recently banned in Europe because it is a threat to honeybees and may be dangerous to the developing nervous systems of children.

Until recently, it was difficult to find organic hops because the USDA didn’t require craft brewers to use them to attain organic certification. The USDA changed its rules in 2013, and organic hops production has already increased exponentially. Sustainably grown options will hopefully be even more readily available in the future.

4. Grow Your Own

It doesn’t get more local or sustainable than a brewer’s backyard. For beer with a truly local flavor, consider growing some ingredients on your own. Gardening enables homebrewers to experiment with unusual ingredients. Growing your own is also a way to remind yourself that, at its heart, beer is an agricultural product. Hops, peppers, and mint are three easy crops to try.

· Hops

The cones of this woody vine give beer its slightly bitter, citrusy flavor, plus it’s relatively easy to grow (depending on the climate). Ideally, hops need six to eight hours of full sunshine a day. They grow in most soil conditions, but require fertilization and good drainage. They are heavy nitrogen feeders. A good support system is crucial, because vines grow more than 30 feet high and can weigh up to 20 pounds. A fence, trellis, or the side of a building works well to support the vines.

It takes a couple of years for hops to get established. They won’t produce many cones the first couple of years as they focus energy on their root system. After that, it’s important to keep them from taking over the garden: They wrap their spiky tendrils around everything in sight.

· Peppers

Green chiles, jalapenos, poblanos, and habaneros can add heat, flavor, or both to a pale ale, IPA, or stout. Many brewers add peppers to the secondary fermentation (like a dry hop) or make a pepper extract and add it just before bottling. Peppers are relatively easy to grow in a home garden, but they are sensitive to cold, so should be planted after the danger of frost has passed. They like plenty of direct sun and fertile, well-drained soil.

· Mint

Like hops, mint is easy to grow once it’s established. It tolerates poor drainage and varying amounts of watering, and it does well in partial sunshine. It’s best to contain mint, because it will happily take over an entire yard if allowed (which makes for aromatic mowing, but may not be desired). Once mint is harvested, it can be made into mint extract and added to the secondary fermentation. As with peppers, experiment with small batches: A little mint goes a long way.

Consider incorporating other garden crops into the home brew. Hopped beer is a relatively modern invention. Before that, brewers made gruit using herbs in place of hops, such as yarrow, marsh rosemary, juniper berries, ginger, caraway seed, aniseed, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Pumpkin and berries can also make tasty ale additions.

The most dedicated DIY homebrewers may want to grow barley. It’s relatively easy to grow, but harvesting and malting are labor-intensive.

5. Reuse spent grains

Once the beer is brewed, a homebrewer has pounds of spent grains. Don’t throw it away! It has all sorts of uses. Add spent grains to garden soil or a compost pile. Feed it to chickens. Or, even better, use it in a bread recipe (like this whole grain version) or to whip up a delicious spent-grain treat invented by the geniuses at the Brooklyn Brew Shop. Try their Spent Grain Peanut Butter Cookies, Spent Grain Brownies, or Spent Grain Waffles.

Homebrewing Popularity

6. Reuse yeast

Rather than purchase new yeast each time, a brewer can reuse the same yeast five to ten times. After the first fermentation, save the yeast that settles on the bottom of the bucket or carboy, wash it, store it, and use it within a few weeks for the next batch. (This practice encourages back-to-back homebrew batches. Since homebrewing is more sustainable, it’s important to keep the inventory stocked.) If stored yeast sits longer than a few months, make a yeast starter to make sure it’s still viable.

7. Chill More Efficiently

Chilling the wort from 160 to 80 degrees is often the most wasteful process in homebrewing. Some brewers put the boiling pot of wort in the sink and run cold water to cool it down, which flushes gallons of clean water down the drain. It’s better to do an ice bath. Or fill recycled soda bottles with water, freeze, and use in place of ice. Afterward, return them to the freezer and reuse.

Try this handy trick when brewing malt kits. Purchase a reusable one-gallon food storage container. Fill it with water and freeze it. Then during the cool down, add the frozen block of ice to the wort in place of a gallon of water. It will help cool the wort quickly. Be careful to lower the ice gently to avoid splashing hot wort.

Immersion wort chillers are popular, because they cool rapidly, but they waste a lot of water. Blogger Chris Jensen devised a way to use his without wasting water. He connects it to an aquarium pump and circulates the water through an ice-filled cooler and back into the chiller. Jensen says he’s cut his water waste by three quarters using this method.

8. Reuse water

No matter the chilling method, there is some wasted water. Water conservation is important, because it takes a lot of energy to treat and deliver. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “letting your faucet run for five minutes uses about as much energy as letting a 60-watt lightbulb run for 22 hours.” Moreover, the EPA says, “With the U.S. population doubling over the past 50 years, our thirst for water tripling, and at least 36 states facing water shortages by 2013, the need to conserve water is becoming more and more critical.” Don’t flush clean water from the brewing process down the drain. Use it on the garden or house plants, or in the washing machine.

9. Downsize Container Waste

Most homebrewers reuse bottles, which is more sustainable than throwing store-bought containers in the recycle bin. To cut down on even more waste, use swing-top bottles. A kegging system eliminates packaging altogether. (However, kegging requires the energy and expense of running a small fridge, so homebrewers should take that into account when deciding which is more sustainable.)

10. Green the Clean

All equipment used in brewing must be clean and free from soap residue, and all equipment used after the boil must be sanitized. When possible, choose biodegradable, environmentally-friendly cleansers and sanitizers. Seven Bridges Cooperative, an online supplier of organic brewing ingredients, recommends using 5-Star PBW (Powdered Brewery Wash) or Straight-A to clean and Iodophor to sanitize. Use a refillable spray bottle to save water.

By adopting the above measures, homebrewers can be confident they are good stewards of the environment while making the delicious beverages they love. In the words of Charles Papazian, all that’s left to do is, “Relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew.”

Sustainable Homebrewing

If this article has you interested in brewing sustainably, check out these custom bar ideas.—http://www.custommade.com/gallery/custom-bars/

What’s your REAL beef with AB??

What’s your REAL beef with AB??

This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You can drink what they're selling you,—and the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. But if you persist, if you continue to dive deep, and you continue to drink that what you truly like—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I'm offering is the truth. Nothing more.



From time to time talking in the shop someone will bring it up... it’s inevitable. It’s around us all the time, at every sporting event, every music fest. It’s a mainstay in advertising. It’s on TV, the radio, and it’s even in our social media. You'll read tweets, see blog posts about AB InBev buying out another craft brewery and people getting up in arms about it. Look, I get it... it’s like big brother invading on our turf. I'm on your side, truly. More so than you'll ever know. Day in day out, I fight representing beers simply because I appreciate the artisanship of the craft beer movement. Why fight? Not for the biggest payout, not because I get a kickbacks, and most certainly not to appease the craft beer community. I do what I do for enjoyment. Not to get street cred. Not for a pat on the back, but for the love of it.

In a perfect world, beer would stand on its own merit. People would drink what they like, not what TV or radio tells them to. And this goes twofold for the craft beer industry. People would be open to try new things. Not just what’s cool. Look, if we as craft beer enthusiast don’t want main stream beer to continue to tell us that the American adjunct lager is all that is beer, than we must also not fall victim to the hype train in the craft beer industry. Instead of looking for the rarest new ultra limited brew, why not try something that speaks to you? Instead of searching for a bottle of Cantillon, why not try the Kriek that it used to sit next to on the shelves before it became a rare gem? I’m not saying don’t seek out rare gems, but as a true fan we must find a way to do so, yet still hold on and support your favorite local beer despite what Ratebeer, BeerAdvocate or other media outlets tell you to like. My staff included.

Welcome to the valley of the real.


King of Market Share


The reality is AB controls more than 52% of the words beer. (Once you factor in that they own portions of Crown Modelo, and Corona as well as many of the "others" listed as 13.9%)

If you’ve ever been in my shop when this topic is brought up, I always grab two beers, hold them up and say “If these were the only two beers in the world, This one (gesturing to you the beer in my left hand) would be all AB InBev. This other beer would be everyone else.” Then setting that beer down, I would show them the other beer and say “This beer would be mostly Miller-Coors and mainstream imports”. The 1,000 plus beers in my shop make up a small fragment of the beer market. From their view point, we're (craft beer) invading on their market.

Unfortunately they are the gate keeper, they are holding all the keys, they have all the money, and they've built the framework we're to operate in. Even if main stream beer only held 1% of the market, there’s one other thing. They control the bulk distribution of ALL the beer in the US. Anyone not aware of this truth is still plugged in. Some aren’t ready to let go. They are far too dependent on the current system and how it’s built up. Like it or not, it’s the truth. Don’t believe me, go to your local liquor store, wait for delivery day and watch the Budweiser or Miller truck pull up to deliver craft beer. Even if shops such as mine that don’t sell Bud or Coors, you will still see these trucks pull up. It happens everywhere. This is the true reality. When a huge semi pulls up with Bud logo on it, we get questions. This post is the answer. You want change? I ask that you shop local. Support local breweries. Frequent them directly, and do it often. Patronize shops bars and pubs such as mine over large conglomerates. Vote with your dollar. Every dollar you spend feeds or starves that what you love, or that what you hate. Remember, it can be a Pretty truth.


-Rich Caudill

Beer snobs vs beer geeks.

The Beer snob vs craft beer geek.
It seems in the industry these two words are used interchangeably. As a craft beer enthusiast I’d like to make a distinction.

-A craft Beer Geek (aka craft beer enthusiast) is one who engages in or discusses craft beer obsessively or with great attention to technical detail.

-Whereas a Beer Snob is one who possesses superior beer knowledge and looks down upon those who drink lesser beers.

A craft beer geek celebrates beer, shares great beer with great friends. A beer snob hoards rare beer, keeping it for their own enjoyment. An enthusiast supports their favorite brands, even in some of their lesser praised creations because they enjoy what the brewery stands for. A Snob, seeks out only high rated beers because they’ve been duped in believing that possession of a great beer makes them cool, rather than thinking its cool to have a great beer.

They say a pictures is worth 1,000 words. But I’ll say this picture is worth 1,000 beers. So I’ll post it rather than rambling on.

(Image from Beer Advocate sited from beerandwhiskeybros.com) evolution-of-the-beer-geek
(Image from Beer Advocate sited from beerandwhiskeybros.com)

Samuel Adams Brewlywed Ale returns with annual event on June 18th

By Press Release

Samuel Adams Brewlywed front

Press Release:

(Boston, MA) – Brides and grooms to-be are paying closer attention to their wedding menus, but it isn't food that's on their minds. Instead they're drawing inspiration from the centuries-old tradition of brewing for weddings and focusing on craft beer as an important component of their big day, a trend wedding planning website Lover.ly confirms. Many couples are even homebrewing specialty batches for their weddings. In honor of this reinvigorated trend, the brewers at Samuel Adams are bringing back, for the third year, the one-day-only limited release of Samuel Adams Brewlywed Ale on June 18, 2014 at the Boston Brewery. The 2014 batch of Brewlywed Ale, a Belgian-style “bride ale,” is a distinct and complex brew with layers of flavor including tropical, floral aromas of Summer and Ella hops, and subtle hints of spice and clove from Belgian yeast.

And for those that can't make it to Boston for this special sale, the brewers are bringing wedding beer to you. Samuel Adams is offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity guaranteed to blow all other wedding gifts out of the water. Samuel Adams brewer Bob Cannon (he of the famous beard) is going on the road to help one beer-loving couple homebrew their perfect wedding beer. Bob has a history of bridal brewing; he brewed what came to be Samuel Adams Irish Red for his own wedding.

Bob will work with the buyer prior to his visit to put together a one-of-a-kind recipe and then help brew the first batch of this special beer in-person. Also included are a homebrew kit, materials for three additional batches, personalized labels for the beer, a gift certificate to a homebrew store, and a beer dinner for up to six people at a local restaurant. A Samuel Adams representative will be on hand to help with bottling, with Bob serving as a personal mentor and coach throughout the entire homebrew process. This experience will be for sale one-day-only at 12:00pm ET on June 20th for $10,000 and all proceeds will go to Brides Across America, a nonprofit founded to provide military brides free wedding gowns. Be the first and only to purchase this once-in a lifetime experience! Details found here: www.samueladams.com/bob.

And for another way to experience Brewlywed Ale outside of Boston, Samuel Adams has teamed up with Ted's Cigars to create limited-edition Samuel Adams Brewlywed Ale-seasoned cigars. The cigars, which showcase subtle spice notes and a floral sweetness from being seasoned by Brewlywed Ale, are the perfect wedding or groomsman gift. They will be available exclusively at TedsCigars.com/SamuelAdams throughout the summer (while supplies last).

What Founder and Brewer Jim Koch has to say about Brewlywed Ale: “This is our third release of Brewlywed Ale. Beer lovers start lining up before the sun even rises to get their hands on this brew, and that excitement never gets old. Craft beer is the ideal beverage for almost any occasion, and I'm thrilled to see beer drinkers across the country opting for craft beer over other wedding beverages.

Brewlywed Ale has a floral, sweet and spicy character, and is the perfect brew to toast a new couple and pair with a wedding menu. Brides, grooms and craft beer drinkers alike have fallen in love with it and we're excited to release the 2014 batch.”

Lover.ly, the new and popular all-in-one resource for wedding trends, inspiration, shopping and planning, has confirmed the spike in interest around featuring craft beers at weddings. As a real-time search engine with its finger-on-the-pulse of what's trending in bridal, Lover.ly has seen a 14 percent uptick in beer related searches in the last four months from the brides, grooms and wedding attendees using the site. Lover.ly features over one million images and 400,000 products from every possible type of wedding allowing engaged couples and their family and friends to discover wedding ideas, receive tips, purchase wedding products, and share their wedding planning stories.

Kellee Khalil, Lover.ly Founder and CEO, recognizes craft beer's growing popularity at weddings: “Lover.ly's research shows more and more couples opting for craft beer over bubbly at their wedding receptions. Couples are always looking for ways to make their weddings one of a kind, and serving craft and homebrewed beer makes a huge impression on guests. Lover.ly has a ton of beer related inspiration and expert tips on our site and iPhone app that will no doubt help beer lovers integrate this trend into their wedding.”

For those headed to Boston to get their hands on the brew, the day will also feature beer-inspired food pairings, private brewery tours, and an on-site Justice of the Peace for romantic couples who want to marry or renew their vows in the Samuel Adams brewery hop garden. This year, only 200 cases of Brewlywed Ale have been brewed, so those looking for a unique wedding brew or a beyond-the-registry gift can line up for a chance to get their hands on a bottle or case. Sale starts at 9AM. For more information visit blog.samueladams.com.

Samuel Adams Brewlywed Ale, Brewers' tasting notes:

This traditional Belgian-style “bride ale” combines the tropical, floral aromas of Australian Summer and Ella hops with subtle hints of spice.

Its light malt character and soft hop profile impart an upfront fruity taste followed by lingering notes of clove and honeysuckle from Belgian yeast.

At 8% ABV, Samuel Adams Brewlywed Ale is a medium bodied brew, deep golden in color with a slight unfiltered haze.

This special brew finishes a little crisp from the wheat, with a citrus and fruity note on the palate and lingering hop finish.

We recommend serving this beer at a temperature of 40-45° and enjoying it well before your one-year anniversary.

Samuel Adams Brewlywed Ale will be packaged in decorated 750mL, cork-finished bottles (perfect to serve on the table at weddings); and available for $14.99 per bottle, or purchased by the case of 12 (maximum of 4 cases per purchase).

Via: BeerPulse


25 new beer labels from Ballast Point, Jolly Pumpkin, Labatt and more

By Adam Nason

Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin IPA

New batch of labels in the can. Another Sculpin variant for Ballast Point, some Gigantic, what looks like the beginning of a redesign for Jolly Pumpkin and more labels from earlier in the year in which we are still catching up (but almost finished now).


Jolly Pumpkin La Roja
Labatt Apple Harvest Ale
De La Senne Wadesda #4 Hoppy Beer
Gigantic Volta Summer Saison
Gigantic Massive! Barley Wine
Gigantic Ginormous Imperial IPA
Gigantic Firebird Smoked Hefeweizen
Pisgah LEAF Amber Ale
Ipswich IPA cans
Ipswich Route 101 West Coast IPA
Mother Earth Park Day Pilsner
The Rare Barrel Ensorcelled
The Rare Barrel Home, Sour Home
Ska Cru D'Etat
Waschusett Revered Red Ale
KelSo Industrial IPA
Stoudts Multiple Personality Disorder IPL
Rhinegeist Cougar Blonde Ale
Rhinegeist Truth IPA
Jack's Abby Leisure Time Lager
Jack's Abby Smoked Marzen
Jack's Abby Sunny Ridge

Draft/No Labels:

Sierra Nevada 1-2-4 BC Ale
DESTIHL Miner's Ruin California Common
Ballast Point Copper Ale
De Molen White Witch Ale
Prairie Ambassador English Ale

Sierra Nevada 1-2-4 BC Ale

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Labatt Apple Harvest Ale

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De La Senne Wadesda #4 Hoppy Beer

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Jolly Pumpkin La Roja Sour Amber Ale

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The Rare Barrel Ensorcelled Dark Sour Beer

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The Rare Barrel Home, Sour Home Golden Sour Beer

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Gigantic Volta Summer Saison

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Gigantic Massive Barley Wine

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<img width="200" height="200" src="http://beerpulse.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Gigantic-Ginormous-Imperial-IPA-e1402157700583-200x200.jpg" alt="Gigantic Ginormous Imperial IPA" data-attachment-id="113792" data-orig-file="http://beerpulse.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Gigantic-Ginormous-Imperial-IPA.jpg" data-orig-size="768,461" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta='{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":""}' data-image-title="Gigantic Ginormous Imperial IPA" data-image-description="

Gigantic Ginormous Imperial IPA

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Gigantic Firebird Smoked Hefeweizen

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Pisgah LEAF Amber Ale

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Ipswich IPA

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Ipswich Route 101 West Coast IPA

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Cambridge Remain In Light Hoppy Pilsner

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Mother Earth Park Day Pilsner

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Ska Cru D'Etat Wild in the Streets Ale

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Wachusett Revered Red Ale

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KelSo Industrial Imperial IPA

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Stoudts Multiple Personality Disorder IPL

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Rhinegeist Cougar Blonde Ale

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Rhinegeist Truth IPA

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Jack's Abby Leisure Time Lager

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Jack's Abby Smoked Märzen

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Jack's Abby Sunny Ridge Pilsner

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Via: BeerPulse