Men and women alike have been enjoying beer for just about as long as there has been civilization. The invention of the beloved beverage can be traced all the way back to ancient Mesopotamia (present day Iran) and is considered to be one of the oldest recorded recipes in the world. Beer has a rich, often overlooked, history and was a revolutionary invention for its time. It was the first beverage that was easily transported without spoiling, and it was a source of nutrition. Beer not only gained mass popularity because of its taste-- and alcohol content -- but also because it was a much safer alternative to water, as many water sources had become contaminated by human waste! As beer production spread from the Middle East to the Mediterranean, and on to many parts of Europe, it captured the imagination of many regions. Various innovations in the brewing process were made over the years to accommodate the varying resources, as well as cultural preferences. The evolution of beer that started over 5,000 years ago continues today and has evolved into what is today’s craft beer industry.
Although beer has a celebrated cultural history, it has long evaded conversations of sustainability and ecological responsibility. It is rarely questioned, or even thought about, how breweries and their practices may affect surrounding environments. Lucky for us here in Boulder, we have numerous breweries keeping these questions in mind and making conscious efforts to be ecologically responsible in all of their processes. So, the next time you’re at Hazel’s, or wherever you buy your beer, try one of these brands, as they deserve recognition for all the extra effort they put into sustainability and doing what is in the best ecological interest of our great Boulder Valley.
Asher Brewing Company is credited with being Colorado’s first USDA certified all organic brewery, and it is located just on the outskirts of Boulder (4699 Nautilus Court, Suite #104 Boulder, Colorado 80301). The brewery exclusively uses organic and locally-sourced ingredients, while also managing to have their brewery and tasting room 100% wind powered. All of the spent grain produced by the brewery is donated to two local farms and is repurposed as feed for livestock. Additionally, all other waste produced by the brewery is recycled, re-used, or composted, making the brewery a zero waste production facility. These are just a few things Asher Brewing Company does in the endeavor for sustainability. Give their page a look to learn more about the brewery and what makes them so unique.
Boulder Beer (Walnut Street) is famous for being Colorado’s first craft brewery and was started in 1979 by two professors from the University of Colorado (Go Buffs!). Like many craft breweries in the area, Boulder Beer has quite the “green story.” Boulder Beer is PACE certified (Partners for A Cleaner Environment), which means it has solar panels that heat all water used in the brewery, they go the extra mile and recycle all hard to recycle materials, and all to-go containers and bags are all compostable or recyclable. The brewing company, like many of its environmentally- friendly competitors, donates spent grain to local farms, where it is used as feed for livestock. Boulder Beer is the oldest craft brewery in the state and continues to make strides for green solutions in the brewing process. To learn more about the brewery, click here.
Oskar Blues Brewing (1800 Pike Road, Unit B Longmont, Colorado 80501) is well known in the industry for only using cans for their product. Although, it received some backlash from consumers, Oskar Blues has remained dedicated to this tactic in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint, and in this age of climate change, every little bit matters. Oskar Blues success in only using cans has inspired many other craft brewers to follow their model and also reduce their carbon footprint. Using cans in the production process is important because it is a more environmentally friendly recycling process as compared to recycling glass. In addition to Oskar Blues’ commitment to recycling and lowering carbon emissions, the brewery has also partnered with a farm to use waste in a more environmentally-friendly way. Oskar Blues donates its spent grain to Hops and Heifers Farm where it is repurposed into supplemental protein for cattle, and it diverts wastewater from production to irrigate the farmland. Check out more of what Oskar Blues is doing here.
Not only do these breweries have an enjoyable selection of beers, but they care about the environment, and they care about you. Many of these innovative practices that strive for sustainability are not cheap to install, and not easily learned. Yet, these breweries are just some of the many in Colorado that go above and beyond to bring you some of the highest quality beer, at the highest standards of sustainability.(For a comprehensive list of Colorado craft brewers, click here.) Give one of them a try next time you’re out, and do a small part to keep the sustainability movement in the craft beer industry alive.