Green Beer. (No, Really.)

March 17, 2008

It’s St. Paddy’s Day. And, for many, St. P’s means brew — more often than not, green brew. Let’s get something straight: green beer is disgusting. I know this. Yet emerald ale can be green in the eco-sense, too; as Brendan Koerner observed at Slate, the vessel in which your suds stay afloat bears something on the environment. According to Koerner:

If your chosen tipple is produced very close to home and your town has a robust recycling program, then glass bottles are probably the way to go. But if your preferred suds are brewed far away, by a company that’s even mildly eco-aware, aluminum cans are the wiser choice.

Koerner goes on to crunch the numbers. While aluminum takes a far greater toll on the environment through extraction and manufacutre (can = 2.07 kWh; bottle = 1.09), it is lighter to ship interstate, thereby reducing its truck-related carbon impact. Says the article, an empty bottle weighs more than six times the heft of an empty can. Heavier items take more fuel to carry, so up go the greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, aluminum has a greater chance of being manufactured from recycled materials (about 40 percent, on average). Plus, it has a greater chance of being recycled in the after-party cleanup.

Of course, if you’re sloshing local beers, more’s the better — provided those longnecks aren’t trucked cross-country. Call up your local brewhouse to find out where they get their bottles. If they’re rollin’ down the highway for hundreds of miles, you might be better off tottering down to the neighborhood rathskeller for an on-tap tipple. Kegs, says Koerner, can last up to 20 years.

For my fellow Seattleites, a few local watering holes:

  • Elysian Brewing Company. Three outposts in Seattle. I’m down with the Perseus Porter.
  • The Pike Brewing Co. Located in the Pike Place Market. Cool industrial decor. Plus tons of old beer ad serving trays. Tons.
  • Redhook Ale Brewery. The carboys and stuff are in Woodinville, but the big ol’ pub is in-city, down by the stadiums. Check out their mini-vids about the Brewing Process (under Our Ales in the nav bar); the Packaging video screams “doin’ it our way!” Makes me want to get a monogrammed sweater and date a guy named Squiggy.
  • Dick’s Brewing Company. Okay, so this brewery ain’t in Seattle, but I had to give a shout-out to my hometown barley-slingers. Located in Centralia, next door to Northwest Sausage and Deli. I *heart* Dick’s Danger Ale. The Working Man’s Brown Ale is awfully sweet, too.

For those outside the Emerald City, some equally enjoyable St. Patrick’s Day associations:

  • Ireland. Yes? No?
    Flag of Ireland
  • Leprechaun. Warwick-ho! This sextet of flicks kicked off with ’93’s smash flop starring a pre-Friends Jenny Aniston. Taken as a compendium of butchered Irish folklore grafted to bad horror makeup and the man who made Wicket the Ewok famous, they make me day! (Living Small Pick: Lep 2, featuring Warwick Davis driving a tricked-out miniature stock car down an L.A. highway.)
  • Warwick Davis = Leprechaun

  • The Riverdance Rap. Heaven bless YouTube. I laughed. I cried. I memorized. Then, in a flash of blinding clarity, realized: I went to college with these guys. Boss.

Straight outta Dublin. Happy St. Pat’s.


4 Responses to “Green Beer. (No, Really.)”

  1. Richard said

    Don’t forget Georgetown Brewing Company. Manny’s Pale Ale – yum. Roger’s Pilsner – also yum (for a pilsner). And they refill growlers!

  2. Richard: I have yet to sample Georgetown’s offerings. Thanks for the heads up!

  3. Justin Garland said

    The best local beer is the kind that you brew right in your kitchen!

    I’ve recently begun brewing my own beer. Aside from the excitement over being able to produce a quality ale on my stovetop and take localivorism to the extreme, I’ve also drastically reduced the carbon footprint of my beer consumption habits.

    I’m lucky enough to have the home brewing store right around the corner from my house. I walk to the store (being sure to take the reusable containers for malt and yeast) to buy supplies. Walk home. Make beer. Let it sit for a week. Bottle it in reused bottles. (I have 36 bottles that get washed and reused to infinity–or until they get dropped on the tile floor and shatter into a thousand pieces!) Wait another two weeks. Pop open a bottle and enjoy. About the most environmentally friendly brew around! The only waste produced in the whole process is the bottle caps and the plastic wrap that contained the hops.

    The next step is to try to source local malt and hops. I’d love to be able to produce a 100% carbon neutral beer by being able to ride my bike to visit producers. But the hops shortage is putting a strain on beer makers everywhere, so at this point, I have to take whatever hops I can find. But we’re talking tenths of an ounce of hops that have to be shipped all over the country rather than the weighty liquid and glass conglomeration that is pre-packaged beer.

    And to top it all off, it’s hecka cheaper!

  4. […] I’m asking you to drink Small by supporting your local distillery. Beyond beers, we Seattleites don’t have much in the way of Pacific Northwest alcohols (aside from Aviation […]

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