Today’s blog is written by Marilyn Hall, Water Conservation Coordinator for Athens-Clarke County, Georgia.
Finally! I get to write a blog about beer! Water is the main ingredient in beer and our local brewers are working hard to protect this precious resource.
Southern Brewing Company (SBC), is one of three breweries celebrating Athens Beer Week this week: the week leading up to the Classic City Brewfest. The other two are Terrapin and Creature Comforts. Both Terrapin and Creature Comforts are open for tours and tastings. SBC is finishing the installation of tanks, plumbing systems, and other brewery equipment and are not quite ready for tours. It was the perfect time to go talk to them about their new brewery and how they are incorporating conservation into the facility and brewing process.
On a brewery tour trip through Europe I met Brian Roth, an enthusiastic brewer who is all about conservation. Brian is the co-owner of SBC, Athens’ newest brewery. While visiting breweries in Europe you can’t help but notice the open hoses that seem to be running all the time. I assumed this was necessary in the brewing process because everything has to be so clean. Brian agreed that brewing beer is water intensive. He told me that the average brewery uses as much as 12 gallons of water to brew 1 gallon of beer! He said the process at SBC will “minimize the senseless rinsing” and incorporate water efficient practices that reuse water as much as possible.
Initially, SBC’s goal is to use about one third less water than the average brewery. Once they are up and brewing with their new equipment they will initiate new ways to save even more water. For example they hope to install a rainwater capture system to collect water to be used for cleaning and other processes. Brian also hopes to someday use rainwater for brewing. Using rainwater to brew beer is an emerging trend in the craft brew industry. Some breweries in drought stricken areas do this already. (Check out Jester King in Austin, Texas.)
Like many craft breweries, SBC uses as many locally sourced ingredients as they can. For example, SBC will be hosting a farmers market and using ingredients from the local farmers and fruit from onsite trees and bushes in the brewing process. Using local ingredients and materials conserves resources. Fewer miles travelled leads to reduced fuel consumption and less packaging. Sourcing building materials locally saves resources in a similar way.
You can support local businesses and learn more about local breweries in Athens by coming to the events of Athens Beer Week. You can meet Brian and other local beer celebrities at the Classic City Brewfest, Sunday April 12, from 2:30 – 6:00 PM. (proceed benefit the Athens Areas-Humane Society)