Green beer, not just on St. Paddy’s Day

The 'greening' of the brewing industry, one drop of water at a time.

March 16, 2015 | By: Travis Thompson

St. Patrick's Day background[]While craft brewing has become synonymous with the city of Denver, one day of the year may catch even the most sophisticated home brewer drinking a beer considered sacrilegious by most microbrew mavens.

It’s St. Patrick’s Day, when the green-dyed beer flows like water.

Now Denver Water is hoping to contribute to another kind of “greening” of the beer industry, by helping the 100 or so breweries, tap houses and craft-brew operations in our area find ways to use water more efficiently.

“Craft brewing is an important part of the culture in the metro area and throughout the state,” said Michael Thomas, water conservation technician with Denver Water. “Together, we must identify efficiencies in the industry now, so we don’t have to look for water-use reductions later.”

Thomas has been meeting with local brewers and working with university and industry experts to discover more about the use of water in brewing and to develop efficiency baselines.

“We’ve learned that most of the breweries in our service area are on a smaller scale and don’t have the means to invest in some of the extreme water-saving equipment available,” he said. “But we can help them set achievable goals, create action plans and share their successes.”

Michael Thomas talks about partnering with the brewing industry on water efficiency at Epic Brewing during a Town Hall presentation sponsored by Senator Lucia Guzman (right).
Michael Thomas discusses water efficiency and beer making at Epic Brewing during a Town Hall presentation sponsored by Sen. Lucia Guzman (right).

Opportunities for water efficiency abound for brewers, Thomas said, some as simple as putting a nozzle on the end of the hose when washing equipment. Brewers also can take advantage of Denver Water’s commercial rebate program, where products range from high-efficiency toilets and urinals to cooling towers and commercial ware-washing equipment.

This “greening” effort is catching on throughout the industry. Triple Pundit, an online news site aimed at socially responsible businesses, reported that 24 breweries, including three from Colorado, signed a declaration urging the industry to take greater action on climate change-related risks.

Writer Leon Kaye highlighted the importance of water conservation, saying, “Brewers are increasing their water efficiency, crucial in regions that struggle with drought and water scarcity.”

“This statement is spot on for our situation,” Thomas said. “We don’t want the first time we talk to this industry to be because we are looking for reductions in time of a drought.

“We want to get ahead of that and ensure brewers are part of making Denver’s water system more resilient to drought by being as efficient as possible from the outset.”

So before you drink your next IPA, Helles or Stout, please raise a pint to the next great movement in the craft-brewing world — green beer, without the dye. Cheers!

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