American craft beer had a banner year in 2012. There was an 18 percent increase in the number of U.S. operating breweries, with the total count reaching 2,403. Small breweries created an estimated 4,857 more jobs during the year, employing 108,440 workers, compared to 103,583 in 2011.
Growth is good for the craft beer drinker, as it encourages innovation, bringing you new styles and flavors, and expansion, allowing you access to more brands. But with growth comes responsibility, which is particularly important to the craft brewing industry, as beer requires the use of many of our natural resources, primarily water.
To celebrate Earth Day, we’re sharing the efforts of five American craft breweries working to support the ecosystems that sustain their growing businesses.
Abita Brewing Company | S.O.S (Save Our Shore)
Abita Springs, LA
Abita Beer established ‘SOS – A Charitable Fund’ in 2010 to assist with rescue and restoration following the the Deepwater Horizon disaster. For every bottle sold Abita donates 75¢ to the rescue and restoration of the Gulf Coast. In addition, 100 percent of net proceeds from SOS retail merchandise goes directly to the SOS Fund.
In 2012, the Fund’s focus was turned to address the greatest threat facing the future of Louisiana: coastal land loss. Abita has formed a partnership with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana to protect the wetlands that provide habitat for hundreds of species of animals, protect the mainland from devastating storms and serve as a cultural base for more than 2 million people who call Louisiana’s coast home. Wetlands are disappearing at the rate of one football field of land every hour, and 80 percent of the entire nation’s coastal land loss takes place in Louisiana.
Eel River Brewing Company | Organic Earth Thirst
Eel River Brewing Company has been producing Earth Thirst to celebrate Earth Day since 2011. Like all of Eel River’s beers, Earth Thirst is organic and brewed sustainably. Brewed with over three pounds of hops per barrel, this strong, hoppy beer finishes out at 8.2 percent ABV. Cascade and Centennial hops give this double IPA a heavy floral aroma and citrus flavor. What makes this beer unique is that it uses the highest quality, 100 percent organic ingredients—all grown in the Pacific Northwest.
A limited release and packaged only in 22oz bottles and keg, Earth Thirst doesn’t just raise awareness about Earth Day and sustainability, it directly supports it. A portion of the proceeds of Earth Thirst are donated to California Certified Organic Farmers.
Ninkasi Brewing Company | Conservation Ale
First brewed in 2011 to commemorate The Eugene Water & Electric Board’s 100th anniversary, all Ninkasi profits from Conservation Ale support the McKenzie River Trust, which works to protect and care for special lands and the rivers that flow through them in western Oregon.
This session ale is described by Ninkasi as, “…sweeter than many of our beers. There is a very pleasant, subtle noble hop flavor and aroma of tea and earthy notes that still comes through because of the simplicity of the malt flavor. It is really all about the water!”
Upslope Brewing Company | Craft Lager
In a partnership with Colorado Trout Unlimited, one percent of the sales of Upslope’s Craft Lager, a snowmelt-infused Colorado-style session beer, is donated to help protect watersheds statewide. Founded in 1969, Colorado Trout Unlimited is the state’s leading non-profit, non-partisan organization providing a voice for Colorado’s rivers.
Victory Brewing Company | Headwaters Pale Ale
Victory Brewing Company was purposefully opened less than 14 miles from the pristine headwaters of the Brandywine Creek. Because of the important role water plays in the production of quality beer, Victory Brewing Company initiated The Headwaters Grant as a way to give back to the groups working hard to protect the natural resource.
Headwaters Pale Ale was released in celebration of Victory’s 15th anniversary. Named to pay homage to the water with which is it brewed, Headwaters Pale Ale is not only a refreshing beer, but also a vehicle for Victory charity. A portion of every bottle sold is collected and distributed to environmental advocacy groups through the Headwaters Grant.
Meghan Storey, the Brewers Association’s Web Editor, has been lucky enough to work in the world of craft beer for the past five years. She holds a degree in Print Journalism from the University of Mississippi, and has recently relocated to Nashville, TN. She loves to introduce friends to new craft beers and food pairings. Since beginning work on CraftBeer.com she can be found adding beer to just about everything she cooks.