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Brewing "greener" beer

So I like to think of myself as a relatively environmentally minded person — I recycle, try to shoot for more energy efficiency in our home, and try to lower my impact on the earth. Don’t quite consider myself a tree hugger or environmentalist, but it’s important.

Are any other home brewers out there using some techniques or DIY equipment to help minimize the environmental impact of your home brewing? I realize I’m probably in the minority for even thinking about or asking this question, but I figure it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Anyone using solar power, water re-use techniques, or other stuff like that?

Curious.

FWIW I use the water out of my chiller to clean/rinse pots and water lawn/garden. I have even saved it and added to my washing machine!

I do compost the grains as well. I don’t think you in the minority as many breweries are trying this as well. Can’t remember what brewery it is but I think they use the spent grains as fuel for the HLT, MT, and BK.

Personally, I’ll try the little things as they make sense, but I’m fairly content with eliminating the car trips to the liquor store to buy beer (and, perhaps, thereby decreasing the requisite supply chain impact). :slight_smile:

[quote=“Loopie Beer”]FWIW I use the water out of my chiller to clean/rinse pots and water lawn/garden. I have even saved it and added to my washing machine!

I do compost the grains as well. I don’t think you in the minority as many breweries are trying this as well. Can’t remember what brewery it is but I think they use the spent grains as fuel for the HLT, MT, and BK.[/quote] New belgium
has a fermenter farm they feed spent grain and collect the methane to power the boil kettle burner.

Yeah, I’ve read about New Belgium’s methane converter — quite the expensive rig, but paid itself off in just a few years and are also reselling some of the energy back into the grid, too.

I guess I’m just really interested in all the different things that can be done to make the home brewing process more sustainable and with minimal environmental impact. True that brewing your own saves in gas (not only to buy it but partially in terms of distribution), but my brain’s spinning trying to think of other ways to cut down on water use, electricity, gas/propane — things like that.

Unfortunately there just isn’t much out there to read on the subject and I think may take some level of inventiveness and creativity to come up with things to improve sustainability and make that sort of thing accessible.

[quote=“twohenries”]
I guess I’m just really interested in all the different things that can be done to make the home brewing process more sustainable and with minimal environmental impact. [/quote]

Water is easy. Conserve when and where you can.
Alternate power is harder at the home brewers scale. Not everyone has the coin to erect a windmill to boil some wort.

Some folks think that supporting locally produced goods can minimize impact. Can you get your ingredients locally?
Homebrewers in Colorado can now brew beer with ingredients that originate in the state.
I think the yeast still comes from the PNW though. :wink:

Some folks think that herbicides, pesticides, and excessive chemical fertilizers have a net negative impact on the environment.
Search organic ingredients here for some excellent heady discussions.

Do what you can, but in the end, its about the beer right? :lol:

I recycle my beer consumption :lol:

you mean you pee back in your boil kettle? ewww.

Not only that but he said he recycles it… so I guess he re-drinks it as well! :lol:

I hope he doesn’t “recycle” his wort.

A few ideas to help you out:

  1. Let your brewing water reach at least room temp by storing it in the warmest room of your house for a day or so before you brew.

  2. Construct a sheet-metal (or tin foil) heat shield to wrap around the base of your kettle/burner and save on propane.

  3. Monitor your boil and keep the flame as low as you can while still boiling vigorously.

  4. Capture water from your wort chiller for cleanup, or run the hose into your washing machine and wash a load. If you have a rain barrel
    http://www.instructables.com/pages/search/search.jsp?cx=partner-pub-1783560022203827%3Anpr2q7v5m6t&cof=FORID%3A11&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=rain+barrel
    , you could fill that up in the summertime.

  5. Cut down on water even more by chilling to 100 degrees or so, then switch over to a pond pump in a cooler full of ice water. Recirculate the freezing cold water for fast chilling and much less water usage.

  6. Compost[/url] grains. Grow hops. Compost spent hops. Worms love grain (in small amounts) if you have a [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFwqhMW6rR0]vermicomposter
    http://www.instructables.com/pages/search/search.jsp?cx=partner-pub-1783560022203827%3Anpr2q7v5m6t&cof=FORID%3A11&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=compost
    . Too many wet grains get stinky really fast!

  7. Start kegging, and save on water for rinsing bottles (but then you’re running a second fridge).

  8. Build a fermentation chiller. I made the Mother of Fermentation Chiller
    http://www.wortomatic.com/articles/38DD-Mother-of-a-Fermentation-Chiller
    and it’s awesome. Especially in the winter when I can make energy-free ice by setting my little totes outdoors.

  9. Pee outdoors. Here’s your excuse.

  10. Harvest and repitch yeast.

  11. Collect your wort, then sparge with an extra gallon or so for free starter wort.

  12. Repurpose old equipment (retired fermenters become grain buckets, etc.)

  13. If you haven’t yet, switch to all-grain brewing and save all of the energy that goes into making malt extract.

  14. Buy in bulk and reduce packaging. Save your bulk grain sacks and sew them into reusable grocery bags.
    http://www.instructables.com/id/Grocery-tote-bag-made-out-of-40lb-birdseed-sack/

  15. Teach somebody to brew. I really feel that brewing beer can lead to a general “DIY” attitude, which often results in much greener living. Maybe I would have ended up where I am without learning to brew, but I think brewing was the spark for me.

Props to you for being Earth-friendly. Sometimes I think the “go green” movement was just a fad, but other times I see things that make me think it’s just becoming an accepted way of life for a lot of people and not such a novelty. If you work through a brewday with an eye toward being green, you’ll begin to identify ways to improve your process. But I agree with pinnah that you don’t want to sacrifice beer quality in the name of being green!

:cheers: Check out all of the links when you can. Good stuff.

Using hot water from the chiller for a load of laundry is the most important thing. It is amazing how much water a load of laundry takes, not to mention the energy used to heat the water.

I have calculated that my electric brewery uses roughly as much electricity per batch as drying a load of clothes. Use the clothes line for a batch of clothes and have a “free” batch of beer!

I recently did a batch of beer that I consider to be as green as I can with an extract batch make it without overdoing it…(which in itself, extract batch are not as green as all grain, I know!)

  1. Tap water was used, with a Pur filter, rather then getting store bought water.
  2. Used 1 step cleaner for sanitizing, much less hurtful to environment then alkaline based cleaners
  3. I used an Induction burner… 80-90 percent heat transfer to the pot! Magnets of all things
  4. I saved what grains I did use, and will be using them for bread
  5. combined a immersion wort cooler with an ice bath and a water fountain pump.
    • Ice was leftover from a tailgate
    • Salt was added to mixture, adding salt to ice water makes it that much colder
    • Water from the bath went up through the wort chiller using the pump, worked well!
  6. 100% of bottles that will be used are from previous batches, New Glarus or Sam Adams bottles
  7. considering harvesting yeast from this batch… concerned on how long it will keep in the fridge

My net waste was the electricity used, the plastic container / bags from the extract (recycle bin) a few tablespoons of 1 step cleaner, and a few gallons of water

caring about the earth is not a bad thing that is like saying people who clean their house too much are house huggers

the earth is all of our home so the more we can do as individuals the better

im a treehugger all day but then again the trees I hug are redwoods try not loving those things

I fill my strike and sparge water out of the sink to save on the gas, I will shower the night before a brew session and skip on the shower brew day to conserve water

i will catch a lot of my water from cooling and use it in the garden or the washing machine

we have been using starsan as long as we can and have switched to using starsan as a surface cleaner in our house instead of buying 409 or things like that

we feed our spent grain to chickens for free eggs and compost all of our spent hops

compared to the effort we spend brewing all of these things are very minor

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