How to Make Homebrewing More Sustainable

There are several easy ways to brew beer at home in a more eco-friendly way.

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Good morning. In Tennessee, lawmakers proposed a bill that would ban the sale of cold beer in response to raised numbers of drunk driving accidents in the state. While it was written with good intent, the bill was wildly unpopular and was quickly withdrawn.

Moral of the story: people like their beer cold.

-Brandon Copeland

How to Make Homebrewing More Sustainable

Homebrewing is inherently eco-friendly - since you are brewing beer at home, and not shipping filled glass bottles of liquid all over the country, you’re already far ahead of commercial brewing as far as sustainability goes. However, there is always room for improvement and minor tweaks that can reduce the footprint of your brewing.

1. Minimize Water Usage

The primary ingredient in beer is water, and in both commercial brewing and homebrewing, this is the best place to start when aiming for more sustainable brewing. An easy approach is to use a closed loop system to cool your wort, by way of a cooler with ice or other means. When the tap is running for 10+ minutes, a lot of water can be wasted down the drain.

When you’re using a wort chiller, the initial runoff is very hot. This water can be saved for cleaning/sanitization at the end of your brew day. If you have a way to CIP, this water could be used for that as well. You could also use some of this water to fill up a spray bottle with sanitizer to have on hand at all times.

2. Find Another Use For Your Spent Grains

Grain in the Brewzilla Gen 4

It’s tempting to just throw your spent grains in the garbage, but there are a few ways to give them another life. Spent grain can be composted; you could either do this at home yourself or bring it to a compost center. Here in NYC there are compost pickups all over the city that you can bring your spent grain to.

You can also use your spent grain to make dog treats, or donate it to a local farm to be used for livestock feed. There are all kinds of creative ways to use spent grain besides tossing it in the can.

3. Grow Your Own Hops

Harvesting hops in 2023

If you have a yard or gardening space at your disposal, you can buy hop rhizomes and grow your own hops at home. This is highly seasonal, but can replace or supplement the hops you are buying from the store that have had to be packaged and shipped to arrive at your homebrew store. Last year was the first year I’ve given this a shot, and it was a great addition in a cascade centric pale ale.

This is just the tip of the iceberg - you can also brew smaller batches which will reduce your energy use, brew beer in groups, and most importantly, make sure you brew great beer so you don’t have to pour it down the drain.

Beer Trivia Question

🍺 What US President was the first to homebrew beer in the Whitehouse?

Read to the end to find out if you're right!

Upcoming Competitions: National Homebrew Competition

If you’re interested in putting your beer to the test in a good old fashioned competition, registration for the National Homebrew Competition put on by the American Homebrewers Association opens on Tuesday February 27th.

I personally have never entered my beer into a competition, but I am going to register for the competition this year and relay my experience via this newsletter. I bought some bottles and a counter pressure bottle filler to prepare since I normally keep it simple and just keg my beer.

Deal of the Week

This is a monster of a deal if you’re looking to buy some Briess malt in bulk. Stout Tanks & Kettles is have a 75% off liquidation sale that ends February 28th, so act quickly to grab some of the cheapest malt you’ll find. The deals are insane - for instance you can get a 50 lb bag of Munich Malt for $11.43. Unfortunately, I didn’t see basic 2 row malt as a part of the sale which is the only malt I have room to buy in bulk.

Brewgr Recipe of the Week

This is an iconic IPA, so it’s only natural that people would want to try to emulate it at home. I’m fairly certain that this recipe will at least be reminiscent of Bells Two Hearted with Centennial hops and mostly 2-Row. You can’t go wrong with a simple but solid one hop recipe like this.

Poll Results: What Primary Fermenter Do You Use?

This survey was a mixed bag which is no surprise - there are so many different options to ferment your beer, and as long as the container is sanitized and held to the proper temperature by one means or another, you can brew great beer. The top tier stainless steel solutions with glycol are awesome, but cost prohibitive, so it’s no surprise they are the bottom of the list.

However I do think lower cost top tier stainless solutions like the MiniUni+ will start taking more market share by continuing to have options that are more affordable and accessible to everyone.

And the Answer Is...

🍺 Barack Obama didn’t brew the beer himself, but at his own personal expense he bought the homebrew kit and ingredients and had his chef’s brew “White House Honey Ale” in 2011.

The most famously known president turned homebrewer was Thomas Jefferson, who became an avid homebrewer upon retiring from politics.

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Happy Brewing!

- Brandon, Brew Great Beer Team

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