President Obama finally okayed the release of the much sought-after White House Beer recipe over the weekend, and you can practically hear the yeast bubbling as home beer brewers celebrate across the country. The news is likely to generate interest among a whole new generation of home brewers, too, and we’re guessing they could probably use some advice on conserving water and energy while they enjoy their new hobby. So, we’re offering up some tips we’ve gleaned from the ‘tubes, and if you’d like to add your own please contribute to the comment thread.
How Green Was My Beer Then?
While an interest in sustainability has motivated many an enthusiast to take up home brewing, the process is only as green as you make it. You’ll still be using energy, water, and raw materials as well as buying manufactured equipment and supplies, same as any other brewer.
It may be the case now that, on balance, homemade beer has a smaller footprint than its mass-produced cousins, but the status quo might not necessarily hold for long. Small and large brewing companies alike have been stepping up their green beer game in terms of supply chain, recycling, water conservation, and use of alternative energy.
Also, global beer giant AB-InBev is venturing into brewery waste reclamation processes that involve green technology beyond the reach of a typical home kitchen, at least for now.
Green Brewing Advice
Here are a few drops of green brewing wisdom resulting from a quick search of the Internets:
Glorioushomebrew.com suggests re-using water left over from cooling, cleaning, and washing up in a variety of ways, including from doing your laundry or watering your plants.
The same folks also recommend composting spent grains, or using them to make tasty dog treats.
The forum at northernbrewer.com provides some tips along similar lines, with the additional suggestion of looking for domestically and locally sourced raw materials whenever possible.
Triple Pundit ran a post earlier this year with some great advice for new brewers. The list includes joining a brewing community to learn more about the process, which will help avoid wasting supplies due to mistakes.
Learning how to brew beer in kegs and growing your own hops (apparently, easier than it sounds) also make the cut.
The Chronicle of Higher Education offers up a profile of one dedicated home brewer whose home includes solar panels. Depending on the size of the installation, solar or wind power could pretty much make the energy consumption issue a moot point.
If you’re in a good position to invest in alternative energy for your home, taking up home brewing will provide you with a really good excuse to go ahead and do it.
Green Beer, Green Jobs
Due to the timing of the White House Beer announcement, some media outlets, such as the Washington Post and ABC News, have speculated that it’s all part of a ploy to win over working class voters (seriously, like nobody else drinks beer?).
On the other hand, release of the White House Beer recipe could very well put more people to work, by helping to grow the market for beer making kits and home brewing supplies. That’s a good thing, right?
Regardless of your politics, drink up! And don’t forget to share your favorite sustainable home brewing tips in the comment thread.
Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.
Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.