Let’s Make Better Beer

I’ve had friends and employers ask me “so what are you going to do with your degree?” And my honest-to-goodness answer is this:

I want to find a way to freeze dry or crystalize beer so I can bring little packets on my thru-hikes and enjoy a brew after a long day of 20+ miles on the back country trails without having to carry a full on brew the whole time.  Seriously.  You may have heard me say it before, but if not it’s out there now… Someday, when you’re reading Backpacker or Outside magazine, they will have it there… A photograph of me lacking hygiene from being on the trails at the top of the Sierra Nevada mountain range on the John Muir Trail with messy hair and dirty everything but a sweet, cold IPA in my hand watching the sunset after crushing double digits.  There’s my dream, folks.

I’m putting the call out early, like a year in advance…Not to develop my freeze-dried beer (although if you have resources that want to explore that, I’m ready and willing!!) Nope, but close – I’m going to be working on a research project that involves the sustainability of breweries, because I love beer, and I love the environment so lets put the love together!!

A little background – I’m working on finishing my Bachelor’s Degree (FINALLY!!) and my major is in Sustainable Management.  Next year I will begin working on a project referred to as my capstone project.  Directly from the description: “The Capstone course gives students a hands-on opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in the real world. Each student will help a real organization solve an existing sustainability problem by implementing practical knowledge to achieve a triple bottom line solution. Issues may range from supply chain structures to energy efficiencies to environmental and climate concerns.”

Everyone knows my love for beer, if you didn’t know, well you do now.  There have been some really cool advancements in the sustainability movement in regards to the brewing industry.  It takes a ton of energy and resources to brew beer, and it creates a ton of waste – not only waste in water, but waste in spent grain as well.  Not what I want to be thinking about when I crack my chilled adult beverage.  The first line of sustainable brewing that I was introduced to was Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon.  (check out their sustainability here) Ever since I took their brew tour on our honeymoon, I knew my calling with my degree.

Digging into a couple of other breweries who are leading the way and doing amazing things that blow my mind are New Belgium Brewery, who recently partnered with Ben and Jerry’s to release Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale to help Protect Our Winters (POW) combat climate change. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is also at the top of the list, rocking out more than half of their energy demands from solar energy resources, diverting 99.8% of their waste from landfills, and making every drop of their water usage count (super important considering their main brewery is in Cali, and let’s face it… they’re not doing so well in the water department lately).

So, enough of the background – let’s get to the good stuff… I need your help.  Since my research project is going to be helping breweries become more sustainable in their processes, I need access.  If you have a contact at a brewery, big or small, or if you happen to find ANY lead that might make you think of me or this project, will you send them my way?  I’m looking for your favorite breweries that do great things for the people and the planet and then I want to tour them, dig in deep and get to the good stuff.  Maybe you know of a small brewery that wants to make more Earth-happy habits, maybe you really like one brewery’s beer, but don’t know where they stand in corporate responsibility… I want to know all of it!  Share my blog with them, or share my email (amyhebling@gmail.com).

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