Blog : Craft Brew Alliance Proves Sustainability Pays Off

By Sam Lane | Jun 4, 2015 | in

By Mike Bizier

The Redhook Brewery in Portsmouth is a popular brewpub destination for many in the seacoast region. Aside from providing customers with quality craft beers, the pub is also known for its sustainable initiatives, such as using natural, locally-sourced ingredients for their menu. What customers might not be aware of is that Redhook's Portsmouth location is part of the Craft Brew Alliance, a larger national brewing company that also puts sustainability at the forefront of its business priorities.

Formed in 2008 through a merger between Redhook’s headquarters in Seattle, Washington and Widmer Brothers Brewing in Portland, Oregon, Craft Brew Alliance (CBA) keeps sustainability at the core of its business model; for both its brewing practices and dining operations on both coasts. With the addition of the Hawaii-based Kona Brewing Company in 2010 and Omission Beer, a gluten free brand in 2012, Craft Brew Alliance has become one of the largest and most sustainable brewing companies in the United States. 

Last year, the CBA released what is now an annual report to raise awareness of their sustainable goals. By releasing the report publicly, CBA hold themselves accountable for meeting their objectives and being fully transparent.

"For a long time we have had this commitment and we have been taking action towards reducing our carbon footprint, but we haven’t necessarily been talking about that publicly," says CBA's sustainability manager Julia Person. "Now we’re starting to see companies release sustainability reports and talking about this, and I think if this continues to happen, it will push more and more companies to do the same."

On Earth Day, April 22nd of this year, the company released their second annual sustainability report. Last year, CBA was able to meet all five of its intended goals, which included achieving a five percent savings across all utilities, reducing the impact of materials used while increasing packing efficiency, earning a third party green certification, and tracking company greenhouse emissions.

 
“The most difficult goal for us was probably the five percent savings, but it was definitely the most important,” says Person. “The savings were cumulative of many different efforts in each of our breweries; from different departments, capital projects, and behavior changes.” 

One major step CBA took to cut down their utility cost was to reduce their overall energy and water usage. In 2013, the company used just over four gallons of water to produce one gallon of beer. In 2014 that number was reduced to three and a half gallons - a far cry from the overall industry average of 6-8 gallons of water typically used to generate a gallon of beer.

Additionally, each associated CBA brewery achieved a major milestone within their region in 2014; the Redhook Brewery in Portsmouth became the first to employ a free electric vehicle charger, the Woodinville, Washington brewery successfully implemented a dry bottling line and was named a Safer Chemistry Champion for the project, Kona made donations to 174 different causes in Hawaii, and the Portland brewery even managed to reduce its landfill by 99.5 percent through recycling.

“The opportunities we have in each area are unique,” Person says. “We work on understanding where we’re implementing best practices at one brewery and try doing them at all locations. We also work with different companies and partners that help us to achieve our sustainability goals.”
The electric vehicle charger at Redhook was made possible through a pilot program and partial grant from Public Service of New Hampshire, now Eversource Energy. Additionally, as a Business Partner with the Green Alliance, a union of local, sustainable businesses and consumer members in New England, Redhook's Portsmouth location celebrated Earth Day by holding a cleanup of Pease Tradeport, the grounds on which they're located. The cleanup was followed by the Party for the Planet, co-sponsored by the Green Alliance in conjunction with Ben Cohen's Stamp Stampede.
Other CBA breweries boast unique Earth Day activities, community givebacks and celebrations of their own; all a part of engaging the communities around them to play an active role in green living and green business practices.

Last year, CBA went to great lengths to promote its involvement within the communities of each of its brewery locations. Widmer Brothers Brewing was also a co-sponsor for the first annual Service, Sports, and Suds volunteer event where Portland’s leading businesses support local nonprofits. The company also signed the National, Oregon and Washington Climate Declarations, the Brewery Climate Declaration and partnered with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation to put 800,000 gallons of water back into rivers through water restoration credits.

CBA’s green initiatives reverberate throughout the company in all departments from human resources to event planning to the brewing process itself. “Our human resources department came up with a new program last year called Volunteers in Action," Person says. “It’s really encouraged us to get out in the local community and work with nonprofits, and employees can even report our volunteer hours for paid time off.”

The Craft Brew Alliance’s eco-friendly actions aren’t just good for the environment though, it has also proven successful for the business end at all of their breweries. Through all of CBA's company-wide sustainability efforts; the organization was able to save nearly $300,000 in 2014.

“Our company is really demonstrating that we’re not just doing the right thing, but it’s also good for our business,” Person says. “I think more leaders out there participating in this need to be vocal about it.”

However, Person says there is still work to be done. This year, Craft Brew Alliance plans to further reduce energy usage by three percent and will implement an innovative project to capture renewable energy from biogas at the Redhook's Portsmouth facility.

Green Alliance Members enjoy 10% off of total food costs!

To find out more about Craft Brew Alliance, visit www.craftbrew.com.

For more information on Redhook Brewery, visit their Business Partner Page.