While beer uses much less water than producing other beverages, it is still wasteful and can be refined. There have been innovative ways to cut down on water usage, but according to Steve Bertman there are many other things breweries can do to minimize waste and become not just more environmentally friendly, but fiscally sound. And that is exactly what his program teaches, starting in Fall 2015 at Western Michigan University. GOOD Magazine describes how larger corporate breweries have poor environmental track records.
Multinational beer corporations—acting not unlike corporate entities in other sectors—ran amok thirty years ago. In the 1980s and early ‘90s, Coors was fined a number of times by the EPA. They dumped millions of gallons of liquid toxic waste containing flammable solvents, lead dross, and cyanide solutions in landfills. They failed to report contaminated drinking water, and local officials discovered that just downstream of the company, babies were born with double the national average of low birthweight and childhood cancer. Even as recently as 2001, they spilled 77,000 gallons of beer in Clear Creek,killing over 50,000 fish across seven-and-a-half miles.
Bertman’s program intends to teach smaller brewers how to maximize their equipment to retain and reuse the highest amount of energy, such as using kettles that are highly energy efficient and capture condensation
The kettle available to students in the program uses half of the energy of comparable brew kettles, a tool Babb says is more popular in Europe, where energy costs are significantly higher than the U.S., but one that’s gaining ground with increasing awareness about sustainable practices.
The program also shows how breweries can reuse cleaning chemicals in a process known as “cleaning in place” (CIP) and how to reuse yeast and grains. The program was designed by an expert advisory board that included 10 of Michigan’s top craft brewers. The curriculum was designed by Mike Babb who was formerly a brewer for Coors.
Just how much water goes into brewing a beer, compared to other drinks? Take a look at this