If David Attenborough can be trusted, and he bloody well can, then we are facing global destruction which got me thinking, is Homer right, i.e. is alcohol (beer in particular) the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems?
Is beer the cause of global warming?
10,000 years ago we left our low carbon, nomadic cave life, and began settling down to farm. Dr Solomon Katz believes we did this because we needed to grow grain to make the most important source of nutrition at the time, yes beer. Ask yourself the question…. If I were a nomadic cave man would I settled down to make beer? Dam straight you would so given the theory seems logical it does appear that beer is the cause or catalyst of the problem, i.e. our our modern, high carbon, lifestyle.
Is beer bad for mother earth?
Sadly even in our modern world beer is not doing our planet too many favours, we use up a lot of water, energy and create mountains of waste. But where is the carbon generated from? Carlsberg Group, one of the world’s largest brewery companies, worked with the Carbon Trust to measure their end-to-end footprint of packaged beer in 2020, 41% of a beer’s footprint was linked to packaging. Agriculture and processing made up 25%, 13% for breweries, 12% for transport and 9% for refrigeration.
So... How do we save our planet?
We’ve banned single use plastic bags, straws and even candle powered sky lanterns. With packaging being the biggest part of the carbon equation it’s now time to ban the can, the bottle, heck we should probably ban anything that can’t be reused, except maybe willie warmers. Yes I have heard of recycling but the sad fact is that recycling is still an imperfect and energy intensive loop, the reports vary but round figures suggest that only 50% of glass bottles getting recycled and 70% of cans – so best case 3 out of every 10 cans end up in landfill. On the other hand, commercial grade kegs are designed to be reused indefinitely over generations and growlers can last as long as you love them.
Besides the environmental win, going draft can also deliver a bunch of other positives – lower tax, avoid the packaging cost and no need to pay for the earn and return recycling scheme which ultimately means cheaper beer for us while still supporting your local’s bottom line. Oh, and yes, there is the fresh beer quality win.
My thinking is that if 50% of the time you enjoy one style of beer, consider throwing a little keg of it into your fridge, you can even use a normal fridge, and then get a growler for your next beer appreciation session.
95% of beer is water so it does seem rather odd that we truck it around the globe. Especially so if you are like me and can’t tell if your go to lager was brewed with Chinook, with Pride of Ringwood or one of the gazillion other varieties of hops.
I get that it can be hard to break your brand loyalty but, to your tastebuds at least, it probably doesn’t matter if you get your lager from the local or abroad. Personally, my local does a killer lager so the switch is another win.
I should say that I don’t think we need to boycott the big boys, many of the macro-breweries have invested a truck load of funding into greening their operations, and it’s not just using renewables to power their breweries, some have even put time into greening their transport like DB Breweries that produces about 600,000 litres of Brewtroleum to power it’s trucks. However, as a norm, if you can avoid the need to transport any produce great distances it’s a win for our planet – plus you get a freshness win.
Well the good news is that nearly all breweries care and have implemented sustainable brewing practises, many of them make financial sense to do so.
That said, some breweries are leading the way, take Young Henrys for example, powering they brewery by solar panels and they also have a 400L bioreactor teeming with microscopic algae, the algae absorb the carbon from the brewing process and produces as much oxygen as one hectare of Australian forest, crazy cool.
BrewDog, is another insanely cool example of a brewery using their force for good becoming our worlds first carbon negative brewery absorbing twice as much carbon as they emit.
I often let my kids down, I heard recently that it’s good too as it gives them a true taste of reality before they face it on their own, but the point is when I’ve failed them, I often fall back to the tried and tested method of buying them off – who want’s ice cream! I know it’s terrible parenting but, I do much worse and the point is how do we offset our consumption footprint.
The good news is, if you support a brewery on KegSwappa it’s pretty easy because we plant a tree for every keg enjoyed. If your local isn’t on KegSwappa yet hit them up or if you’re really motivated find an offset website and make a payment.
Can we really save our planet by drinking beer?
A mature tree will absorb the carbon equivalent of about 88 local draft beers. A 20L keg only has 53 (375ml) beers and a 10L keg only 26, the carbon equation is looking pretty good, especially given that trees absorb carbon for many years.
So yes, it seems that Homer is correct (like normal) and alcohol/beer really is part of the solution to global warming – especially if you drink draft from a local that cares and you plant trees.
So if someone looks at you sideways because you’ve come home with a keg or bunch of growlers for yourself let them know your favourite hobby hasn’t become a problem, a 10L keg is basically a case, and that ultimately you are just trying to save our planet, like a Beer-Venger!