Tag Archives: microbrewery

Beer and Sustainability

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Photo courtesy of Great Lakes Brewing Company

It’s important to remember running a business isn’t just about a great product or phenomenal service; it’s also about good public relations and practicing social responsibility.  Being socially responsible can range from doing things like fundraising to practicing award-winning sustainability efforts and a million things in between.  Craft brewery Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland, Ohio does both – fundraising to lead to sustainability.

Last year, brewpub owners Pat and Dan Conway received the Champions of the Decade Award from Entrepreneurs for Sustainability, a business network oriented towards sustainability.  A Cleveland resident nominated the brothers for their strong sustainability practices.

Sustainability at the Brewery

Beau Daane on the blog Weatherhead Masters Blog touches on the sustainability practices Great Lakes Brewing Company has taken.  I’m going to pull a page out of his book.

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Photo courtesy of Google Images

  • For starters, the company recycles used vegetable oil from cooking to fuel a beer delivery truck and a shuttle bus called The Fatty Wagon.
  • Some menu items, liked the cracked barely beer bread and pretzels, are made using recycled barely from the brewing process.
  • All menus, promotional items, beverage napkins and beer cases are made out of 100% recycled materials.
  • Great Lakes Brewing Company uses vermicomposting to fertilize the herbs and vegetables found on the menu.  What is vermicomposting?  Now, this may turn some of you off but it’s actually amazing!  Vermicomposting is the process of feeding worms paper, kitchen scraps, grains and cardboard and then using the worm castings as a top-notch organic fertilizer.  Castings are poop…that’s the gross part.
  • In the winter Great Lakes Brewing Company uses cold air from outside to cool the beer to reduce the use of electricity.
  • Bottles of beer that aren’t completely filled in the bottling process don’t just get thrown away; they’re used in menu items.
  • The brewery gets its herbs and vegetables from two organic farms it manages – Pint Size Farm and Ohio City Farm.

Great Lakes Brewing Company has implemented a non-profit organization and some events to illuminate its efforts.

The Burning River Fest

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Photo courtesy of Great Lakes Brewing Company

Started in 2001, the Burning River Fest has been an event put on by Great Lakes Brewing Company to bring people together to remember the burning of the Cuyahoga River in 1969.

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Photo courtesy of Google Images

The event is supposed to celebrate the renewed sense of eco-consciousness the fire sparked.  Great Lakes Brewing Company brews a pale ale called Burning River to commemorate the event.  Click here for more information on the fire and the history of the Cuyahoga River from cleveland.com’s article on the 40th anniversary of the fire.

The Burning Rive Fest features displays from local environmental groups and educational organizations, local and organic food and live music.  The proceeds from the event benefit sustainability efforts of the Great Lakes that focus on water quality.  Since 2001, almost $250,000 has been awarded.

The Burning River Fest will take place this year on July 23 and 24 at the historic Coast Guard Station on Whiskey Island.

The Burning River Foundation

Established in 2007 as a result of the support of the Burning River Fest, the foundation is a non-profit organization whose purpose through grants, donations and community involvement is to provide far-reaching education and resources for the conservation, protection, exploration, prevention and sustainable future of our waterways, more specifically, the Great Lakes.

The Burning River Foundation has promoted sustainability through the donation of funds for:

The steps Great Lakes Brewing Company are taking to be eco-friendly are simple steps that many businesses can take to help make the world a greener place.  It’s important to preserve where we live, make it a better place for our kids, grandkids, great grandkids…you get the picture.


Small Brewery, Good Brews, Big Contributions

Ohio is home to many microbreweries.  Some of which are well known brewpubs with big names like Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland, Ohio.  However, others are small brewery-only establishments like Cellar Rats Brewery in Madison, Ohio.

During my adventures so far this semester I have discovered some small breweries that brew some very delicious beers!  This weekend I uncovered the hidden gem called Indigo Imp Brewery.  Blogger Jason on The Greatest Beer of all Time blog had a message for us Clevelanders.

“Wow, I’ve never been jealous of those that live in Cleveland but now I am.  Hell, you guys should stop whining about Lebron, you have Indigo Imp Brewery!!”

About Indigo Imp

Indigo Imp Brewery is an independent, family-owned and operated microbrewery handcrafting small batches of beer in open fermentors.  The brewery is small and sells beer onsite, however, six-packs are available for purchase at local retailers like 101 Bottles, Campus Wine Cellar, and Riverside Wine and Imports in Kent, Ohio.

I was perplexed by the name when I first discovered this beer and did some research to find out what it meant.  According to merriam-webster.com, an imp is a small demon or a mischievous child.  A description like that is enough for a beer brand to get some attention.  I think we’ve all been a little impish at times, some more than others.

Indigo Imp Brewery box

Indigo Imp Brewery thrives on the desire to stand out among other microbreweries.  According to the Website, an imp bottle is the one bottle in every six-pack that is dipped in wax.

“There’s a little Imp in everyone but sometimes one stands out. Are you an Imp?“

I didn’t purchase an entire six-pack of Indigo Imp for this post, but I did go to Ray’s Place in Kent, Ohio and tried a couple of Imp beers.  I love Ray’s Place, so I was excited I got to go there to eat, drink and be merry. 😉

About Blonde Bombshell

This beer was not at all what I expected.  It was a dark amber color with a thin white head.  Carbonation raced up the sides of the glass quickly to the top.  The side of the bottle advised me to pour slowly so I didn’t disturb the yeast.  I prefer the yeast that settles in the bottom of craft beers.  That’s where the entire flavor is!  So, I poured the yeast into my glass once I had a little more room.

The flavors confused my mouth!  It started out spicy with a little bite from all the carbonation but ended sweet with tones of citrus and sugar.  Blonde Bombshell was a very delicious way to start my night at Ray’s Place.  I was delighted with this choice.  The average rating on Beer Advocate is a B- but I think it deserves an A.

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About Jester

Another surprise from Indigo Imp Brewery!  Jester is a Belgian Pale Ale, which means it was brewed with Belgian yeast.  I kept thinking Blue Moon while I was drinking this beer, but the flavor was so much more than Blue Moon.  I couldn’t figure out what the fruit was that I tasted and then it hit me…BANANA!  I was spot on.  Clove and banana radiate through this beer that poured a milky caramel color with minimal head that dissipated quickly.  Ratings on Beer Advocate weren’t too pleasant.  People rating the beer called it boring but I just don’t agree.  I say Jester is a delicious summer beer that I will be picking up very soon.

I was pleasantly surprised with both choices of Indigo Imp beers.  I would have tried more if Ray’s had the selection.

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About Imp’s Green Initiative

Indigo Imp stands out to me because of its green initiative.  The brewing process creates quite a bit of waste and Indigo Imp prides itself on recycling everything it can.  When possible, the water used to brew the beer is recycled into water used to clean.  Indigo Imp recycles any materials that can’t be reused in a future brewing process, like glass and cardboard.  Even the grains used in the brewing process are contributed to a local farm to feed cows.

Many breweries are taking a green initiative.  Not only is it good for the environment, but recycling waste from the brewing process has helped some breweries save money as well.  Last year, Magic Hat Brewing Company in Vermont installed an anaerobic methane digester that turns brewery waste into natural gas to fuel the brewing process.  Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate and avid home brewer Eric Fitch designed and patented the device after a home brewing blunder that left his basement flooded.