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Tuesday, January 17, 2017
The very beginning of a university semester can either be ridiculously laid-back or incredibly jarring; either way you're going to want a drink. In addition, my father recently took a "beer appreciation" course, and so over the Christmas holidays I got my ear chewed off about the difference between lagers and stouts, brewing history and proper glassware. This all got me thinking about the impact of the beer industry and if brewing and beer consumption could be done in a sustainable manner. So I did some research (and some sampling) and here is what I would love to share with you about how to make greener choices about beer, or sustainabrews, if you will.
As with most things, buying locally-made/sourced products can be better for the environment and also for the local community. Primarily, there is less energy used in transporting the products when they are domestic. Furthermore, you support small businesses in the community. So when choosing between something locally-brewed or a larger corporate mass market brand, it's usually better to buy local. If that's not available, buying domestically is better than internationally.
Now, if you are buying a bigger name brand, in their 2016 Sustainability Report Molsoncoors pledged to go landfill free, reduce energy consumption by 25% and reduce water consumption by 15% by 2020. Interestingly, Labatts most recent environmental report only features numbers from 2011 and despite claiming that "environmental stewardship is a key focus of [their] everyday operation", their current environmental initiatives are not so transparent.
Thankfully some of my favourite Ontario craft breweries have made strides forward in their sustainable practices. Millstreet Organic is an award-winning, Toronto-based craft brewery who, among numerous environmental initiatives, use only domestic, local or seasonal organic ingredients and have an extensive recycling and waste management policy. On a smaller scale, a really cute and emergent brewery in Blyth, ON called Cowbell has pledged to become the first carbon-neutral brewery in North-America and have integrated environmental stewardship into every aspect of their business.
In switching back to locally-brewed brews, the Ottawa community has recently become known for its growing craft beer market. Dominion City Brewing Co., a small-batch brewery which began as a Kickstarter campaign, emphasizes giving back to the local community by recycling and reusing as much as possible and responsibly disposing of brewing by-products.
Finally, Beau's All Natural is Canada's first ever Benefit Corporation brewery, who not only use all natural and certified organic ingredients and use only eco-friendly packaging, but have given back over $1 million to local charities and community initiatives! Even more exciting? The CEO and co-founder of Beau's All Natural Steve Beauchesne will be the keynote speaker at the Telfer School of Management's Entrepreneurs’ Club ‘Toast to Success’ Business Dinner on February 1st at the Canadian Museum of History!
Some other things you can do to make your beer consumption a little more sustainable include choosing what's on tap when at the bar and properly recycling and even returning your cans and bottles afterwards. So good news! If you're looking for these sustainabrews, you don't have to look far! Father and Sons, Café Nostalgica and the Sandy Hill Lounge and Grill all have Beau's All Natural on tap and Dominion City can be found also at the Sandy Hill Lounge and Grill. Furthermore, all the near-by bars have extensive domestic options available.
As in all things, it is so important to look into the environmental practices behind the products we consume and to support the ones which are good for us and good for the earth. Choosing sustainable beer, or Sustainabrews as I like to call it, is a great way to feel a little better about drinking a little more.