As you've probably noticed, April is the month of DrinkCraftBeer.com featuring sustainable brewing practices on our site. Obviously we couldn't have this theme without focusing on organic craft beer brewers! Organic is one of the earlier sustainability/environmental trends and it survives to this day. Also, we now have a couple breweries in New England focusing completely on organic beer production. I spoke with Max Oswald, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Wolaver's Organic Ales (Middlebury, VT), and Jon Cadoux, Co-Owner and Brewer for Peak Organic Ales (Portland, ME). What did I find out? Well, we know that professionally running a brewery is hard work... Now imagine running a brewery and having to acquire organic grain and hops that are in dangerously low supply and having to jump through government hoops to maintain your USDA Organic Certification. These were just some of the things I learned from talking with these two steadfast advocates of organic and sustainable methods of producing food and grain.
When you think of industries that are good to the environment, which ones do you think of? Well, if you didn’t say “craft brewing,” then you might want to think again. Craft breweries are some of the greenest companies around, many are ahead of the curve when it comes to implementing sustainability and environmental initiatives. Maybe it’s the fact that the beer industry has razor thin profit margins so waste costs too much. Or, maybe it’s just the culture that many brewers and craft beer brewery owners come from that make them more inclined to enact environmentally friendly plans. Perhaps, since most breweries are fairly local enterprises, they don’t want to pollute the very area where they have their most loyal market. Regardless, brewers are a green bunch and we’re not talking envy. Check out how the following breweries do their best to do right by our planet.
Note: This is the first in a series of several articles that will highlight breweries with green practices. Each article will focus on one or two different methods for sustainability, such as recycling or wind power, and then highlight one brewery that has gone above and beyond the call of duty in protecting our world. Enjoy!
In Part 1 of Craft Beer Brewers Go Green, we'll focus on breweries that use wind power, including Allagash Brewing Company and Brooklyn Brewery. Then, you'll get an in-depth look at many of the amazing steps Sierra Nevada has taken to truly be one of the greenest breweries, if not companies, in the United States.
Anytime we hear Ron Jeffries is working on something new we get exited. For any of you who haven't tried Jolly Pumkin's beer, you're missing out. What has us really excited is something very new though. Ron has started Northern United Brewing Co (NUBC). NUBC will be comprised of three new Jolly Pumpkin cafe's, one in Dexter (next to JP brewery), one in Ann Arbor and one on the Old Mission peninsula just north of Traverse City. In addition to the cafes they are adding two breweries, North Peak and Grizzly Peak, the top two brewpubs in Michigan. Both North Peak and Grizzly peak have been around for over a decade, we're excited to see some expanded distribution since we haven't tried their beer.
If all this isn't excting enough, next to the location in Traverse City they will also be christening a brand new 10,000 BBL production facility which will produce non-sour Jolly Pumpkin beers. Non sour Jolly Pumpkin? We dont' even know what that's going to be, and they're still working that out, or just keeping it tight lipped for now, but we'll be following this closely as it develops.
We've been fans of Somerville, Massachusetts' Taza Chocolate for a while now. We did a beer pairing with them in February 2008 and found their chocolate to be amazing with a variety of beers. When we heart that Watch City Brewing in Waltham, MA had partnered with them to brew a chocolate porter we knew we had to go check it out. The beer, dubbed "Chocolate Thunder" incorporates 45 pounds of Taza's 70% Dark Stone Ground Chocolate and 5 pounds of Taza's Chocolate Mexicano Vanilla Bean. This is one really delicious beer! Any fan of Taza will be able to pick up the signature complexity of the chocolate in the brew as well as a raw subtle sweetness that helps round out the finish. While this is certainly no light beer it manages to be very drinkable and doesn't feel heavy. Aaron Mateychuk, the brewer at Watch City, has managed to blend the roasty malt flavors with the bitter dark chocolate notes without making the beer itself feel overly bitter.
Alex Whitemore, of Taza Chocolate, was on hand for the release. While this beer is amazing on its own, we were lucky enough to pair the beer with the chocolate which really brings it up another notch. While we can't guarantee the brewpub approves, bring in some Taza with you to the bar and do the pairing yourself, trust us on this one. The Chocolate Mexicano Salted Almond goes especially well with the chocolate in the beer, creating an almost peanut butter and chocolate experience.
On a side note, having tasted some of Taza's new chocolates, look out for an all new event with DrinkCraftBeer and Taza Chocolate coming soon. Stay tuned for more details.