Green Beer Not Just for St. Pat’s


To make Super Bowl XLIII greener, the National Football League's Environmental Program will plant thousands of trees in the Tampa Bay area, power the stadium with renewable energy and buy carbon offsets to balance out travel by the teams and NFL officials.

Making your own Super Bowl shindig green doesn't have to be quite so complicated. In fact, simply by changing the type of beer you quaff, you can improve your bash's eco-friendliness. From organic craft beers to environmentally friendly efforts by the likes of Anheuser-Busch (Stock Quote: BUD), we'll help you find the right green beer for your celebration.

Start small: Full Sail Brewing Co. in Hood River, Ore., sells seven beers, ranging from the award-winning Full Sail Pale Ale to Session Premium Lager.

The highly lauded beers come from a very eco-friendly company. Full Sail has reduced its energy use and water consumption by compressing its workweek into four 10-hour shifts, installing energy efficient lighting and air compressors and putting in a hot water recovery system. The brewery purchases wind power each month, reducing its annual greenhouse gas emissions by 168 tons. Managers also work closely with local farmers, buying the majority of their hops and barley from Northwest farms and using the grain and yeast left over from the brewing process as feed for dairy cows.

Employee-owned New Belgium Brewing Co. in Fort Collins, Colo., produced the first Belgian-style beers in the U.S. New Belgium makes the popular Fat Tire Ale as well as seven other brews.

When the company began selling its wares in 1991, it vowed to "honor nature at every turn of the business." The brewery uses an extremely efficient brew kettle and energy-efficient design throughout the building. New Belgium processes its own wastewater to produce methane, which is then used to fuel an engine that supplies up to 15% of the brewery's energy needs. (They buy wind energy for the rest.) New Belgium also encourages bicycle commuting: Every employee earns a cruiser bike after his or her first year on the job.

Portland, Maine's Peak Organic Brewing Co. has gone a step beyond using organic ingredients. The brewery's Maple Oat Ale is made with local ingredients, including organic oats from Maine and organic maple syrup from Vermont. Peak's Espresso Amber Ale is the first Fair Trade-certified beer and is made with locally roasted, organic Fair Trade-certified espresso from Portland's Coffee by Design.

Don't forget the big guys: It might seem like microbreweries dominate the green beer market, but some of the larger companies are doing their fair share, too. In fact, Coors (Stock Quote: TAP) produced the first recyclable aluminum can in 1959 and instituted the first take-back program, offering a penny for each returned can. Fifty years later, Coors continues to take steps that cut costs and help the environment. Among other efforts, the company converts waste beer into fuel-grade ethanol that is added to gasoline and sells spent grains for cattle feed.

Anheuser-Busch, meanwhile, has been turning grain left over from the brewing process into livestock feed since 1899. Last year, it shipped an estimated 1.74 billion tons of grain to dairy farms throughout the country. The company also recycles aluminum cans through its Anheuser-Busch Recycling Corp. In addition, its breweries in Jacksonville, Fla., and Fort Collins, Colo., use wastewater from cleaning brewery equipment to provide water and nutrients to company-owned resource-recovery farms. These farms grow canola, which is used in biodiesel, as well as alfalfa and other hay crops, which are used for animal feed.



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