So many beer brands to choose from, so little time. Almost every liquor store is filled to the brim with various wheat beers, spicy IPAs and rich stouts. But what's a green beer lover to do? Sure, that PBR special is downright tempting, but is it the eco-friendly option? Probably not. It's contained in glass or aluminum, each beer has a paper label, and the carton is cardboard. A better option may be buying from a craft brewery, a brewery that offsets emissions, or brewers that make organic beer. Or heck -- you could even learn how to brew your own brew at home.
Small, independent craft breweries are popping up all over the nation and most Americans live within 10 miles of a brewery. So, what's a craft brewery, you ask? The Brewers Association states that American craft breweries are small in size, independently owned and operated, and produce traditionally brewed beer. Here are the details according to CraftBeer.com:
"Small: Annual production of beer less than 6 million barrels. Beer production is attributed to a brewer according to the rules of alternating proprietorships. Flavored malt beverages are not considered beer for purposes of this definition.
Independent: Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer.
Traditional: A brewer who has either an all malt flagship (the beer which represents the greatest volume among that brewers brands) or has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor."
Organic beer is easily identified by its labeling. According to Treehugger, "95 percent of the ingredients used in the creation of beer must be grown in soil that has been free of pesticides and artificial fertilizers for 3 years in order to be certified by the US Department of Agriculture. If 70-95 percent of the hops and barley used are organic, the beer gets a sort of runner-up 'Made With Organic Ingredients' labeling."
Also, GEOs (genetically engineered organisms) and GMO seeds aren't allowed in organic brewskis.
Nothing beats knowing exactly what's in your glass. Home-brewed beer is relatively easy to make but is a bit time consuming. If you want to learn how to make homespun organic beer that's distinctly your own, check out our comprehensive home-brew guide.
Other things to look for when buying beer:
- Support green, eco-friendly beer companies that are powered by sustainable energy, or that offset emissions.
- Drink draught beer, not canned or bottled beer. Kegs are reusable and can hold the equivalent of hundreds of beers. Party on! Keg use also cuts down on label, paper, cardboard, can and glass waste.
- Buy label-free beer.
- Avoid beer that's made by "big beer" (think Anheuser, Coors). These large companies use pesticides on crops and ship products long distances, worldwide. Boo.
Images: lindsey gee