We all know what the best beer in the western United States is — Free Beer! Responsibly produced beer (aka guilt-free beer) comes in a close second, though, and that’s exactly what the good folks over at Anderson Valley Brewing Company in Boonville, California, are producing… and their message goes way beyond just the production of the beer. In addition, they do happen to be ranked in the top 10 brew pubs on the West Coast, so you don’t just have to take my word for it. 🙂
Owner and president Trey White lays down his perspective: “I think it’s important that all companies be responsible for impacting the environment in a positive way. Resources need to be used as efficiently as possible and with an effort we can not only keep waste products out of our landfills, but useful applications can be found for them.” And these aren’t just weightless words — the good folks over at Anderson have taken a holistic approach to making every part of the work they do more sustainable, with the centerpiece of their efforts being a massive 768-panel solar array.
Way back in 2006, when the route to school was still uphill both ways, covered in 2 feet of snow and a wind blowing at you both ways, the Anderson Brewing team was installing its 768 solar panels on top of the brewhouse and employee parking structure. The timing of the install is noteworthy in that, in 2006, solar wasn’t cheap. It wasn’t yet a no-brainer to do, and it took a bit of muscling to find an educated installer and enough financial willpower to overcome the initial purchase price.
Since that time, the system has paid for itself and produces 40% of the power used by the brewery. The beauty of the system is that this power would have otherwise come from fossil fuel powered traditional power generation, so the addition of the panels makes a real impact on the overall carbon footprint of the business. The solar love doesn’t stop there, as AVBC takes the solar to the people by spreading the message on all of the lids that go on the bottles it produces. If you opt out of the bottle program and come into the taproom, you’re similarly slammed in the face by the “Solar Powered Beer” message.
AVBC has also taken a critical look into the waste it generates as part of the beer-making process. Coming out of that analysis, the team found several creative ways to reuse the byproducts generated, such as donating ~2000 pounds of spent grain to local ranchers as a feed supplement. Spent hops are mulched up into a naturally nutritious fertilizer for landscaping around the property and for the next crop o’ hops fields.
The Brewery intentionally cans many of its favorite beers, which makes shipments of its final product lighter, more space efficient, and infinitely recyclable, which saves tons of energy! In addition, it recycles 100% of all its other metals, cardboard, and plastic waste. It has even won awards from the state CalRecycle Waste Reduction Awards Program for 6 years in a row. A very impressive feat indeed!
All Images Credit: Anderson Valley Brewing Company
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