From the Irish dark brews to German pilsners to American microbreweries, beer is universal. You have to go a long way to find a place in this world where a cold beer is not appreciated. And while you may be a beer expert yourself, did you know that green beer isn’t just for St. Patrick’s Day? You can add more green to your beer just by looking for a few eco-friendly options when buying your next keg or six pack:
Is Your Beer A Local Brew?
Like everything from food to flowers, local is the greener option. The further your beer has to go to get to you, the more gas has to be used, which results in oil and other natural resources being used. This also results in more greenhouse gases emitted, which contribute to pollution and global warming. Every mile that your beer isn’t shipped, trucked or flown adds its green attributes. Local breweries often produce interesting and unique microbrews that are worth the extra search and may even be cheaper than national brands.
Is Your Beer is Certified Organic?
Certified organic beer is grown with ingredients that were farmed without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. This enhances the soils fertility, conserves water and produces fewer greenhouse gases. A beer that has been marked as certified organic by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) must be made with at least 95 percent organic ingredients. The manufacturers allow all of the standards set by the USDA, including standards for the chemicals used the clean the breweries.
Is Your Beer Made with Organic Hops?
During the brewing process, a brewer ferments the sugar from barley malt and then uses the flowers from hops, a type of climbing vine, to counteract that sweet taste with its bitter oils. Fermenting sugar is essential to making beer, and therefore so are hops. The USDA’s organic program actually allows organic brews to be made with nonorganic hops if the brewer can’t get access to them. That means that just because your beer is certified organic doesn’t mean that the hops in your beer are also organic. There are some purists that argue that no beer is truly organic if the hops-which are such a big part of a beer’s aroma and taste-are not organic. Either way, if you want to guarantee a truly organic beer, buy a brand from a brewery that uses organic hops.
Are You Reducing, Reusing and Recycling?
One of the first rules of a green lifestyle is reducing the amount of packaging we accept with our purchases. Buying in bulk is nearly always better for the environment. So if you are hosting large numbers of people go for keg instead of the individual bottles or cans. If a keg is not an option, make sure to recycle those empty beer cans and bottles. And if you’re the crafty sort, you may even find a new uses for bottles and cans. Every item that you keep out of a landfill is a step in the right direction-a green direction.
St. Patrick’s Day aside, go green with your beer drinking requires a little more research and be a little more expensive. But small choice make global impacts and this is one that is not good for the environment but tastes good going down.