The Cleaner, Greener Beer
Cask fresh beer isn’t just the best-tasting beer, it’s also the most sustainable
By Juliette Wills
When it comes to sustainability, cask fresh beer ticks all the boxes thanks to so many brewers leading the way with innovative production methods.
Publicans will stock casks from local breweries where possible. Even if the cask on offer isn’t local, it’s still being manufactured by independent brewing companies in the UK. Not only does stocking local casks mean fewer beer miles, the revenue from each cask fresh pint you drink goes straight back to the brewery. The more beer they sell, the more they can expand their business, and as a business grows, so does its number of employees.
The next time you’re sitting with a lovely pint of porter, consider yourself as part of that sustainable effort (heck, if you need an excuse for a pint, that’s a good one). Almost every part of the supply chain is reused countless times; the key to a green operation not being that the materials used in production are recyclable, but that they are reusable. There’s very little that ends up in a landfill with a cask brew. Keep drinking, there’s more.
Recyclable and reusable bulk units such as casks and kegs have a way smaller carbon footprint, whereas your average six-pack of beers in bottles or cans require more resources and energy to manufacture, and a whole lot more of the same when recycled.
If you’re thinking, ‘What about solar panels and that kind of stuff?’ then look no further than your local brewer for innovative sustainable methods. Many small, independent breweries are light years ahead of big-name brewers when it comes to being environmentally friendly.
Most of them have figured out how to reduce water waste by capturing rainwater, and have developed systems to clear their wastewater for reuse as rinse water. It’s rich in biodegradable materials and nitrogen, so it can be used to water hop fields or go straight back into the rivers from which it came. Waste grain, meanwhile, can be used to feed cattle, sheep and pigs, and mixed with woodchip or used cardboard packaging as compost. Who knew?
Farr Brew in St Albans started a ‘hop collective’ whereby their members grow hops in their gardens. The initiative resulted in a light pale ale, enjoyed for free by the members in bottle form and in cask at a hop harvest party. The remainder was sold to local pubs for the public to enjoy. Their recipe for porter contains a large amount of honey, so they also installed hives on their land and sell the leftover honey in their tap room. How about that?
Over in Shropshire, Ludlow Brewing developed a heat exchanger to recover waste heat which in turn provides the warmth for the on-site taproom’s underfloor heating system, while Pembrokeshire-based Bluestone uses solar panels as their energy source and built a compost toilet block with its own grass roof and self-watering system. They also have their own bottling and canning line, so brew and package all their products on-site, thus massively reducing their carbon footprint.
So the next time you’re standing at the bar wondering which cask to go for, start with the most local beer and help make your little part of the world a better place. Cheers!