going green in the brewing industry

    Published: November 16, 2015

    Going Green in the Brewing Industry

    During the most crippling drought California has faced in over a century, opening a brewery may not seem like an environmentally or economically sound decision. Dry River Brewery, currently opening in the historic Arts District near downtown Los Angeles, seeks to challenge this assumption by striving to become the greenest brewery in all of California. Dave Hodgins, 34, owns the brand new brewery and seeks to redefine how the public views breweries as businesses and as opportunities for water conservation.

    In a typical brewery, the ratio of water used to produce beer is six to one. Every barrel of craft beer will necessitate six barrels of water when standard methods of brewing are used. Some major-label breweries like Sierra Nevada made headlines when they brought their respective water to hops ratio down to four to one. Hodgins, however, sees this as the starting point. After a few months of groundwork, he plans to have Dry River Brewery operating at an astounding one to one ratio. In his business model, Dry River Brewery will be a no-waste facility wherein every resource, chiefly water, is fully utilized.

    In order to reduce water usage in an environment that derives its power from water, Hodgins has to alter most methodologies associated with the brewing process. Working on reducing water waste in his facilities requires Hodgins to use completely natural carbonation when brewing the Dry River brand. The kegs are cast-conditioned so the carbonation can occur naturally over time without artificial ingredients or processes. This means the beer itself is neither pasteurized nor filtered. The barrel aging takes much longer, meaning when you buy the Dry River label you’re purchasing “slow beer.”

    In the face of an unrelenting drought, what other changes are necessary to minimize water usage at a brand new brewery? For one, Dry River Brewery only uses solar-thermal water heaters and invests much of their overhead costs into comprehensive water reclamation techniques. To reduce the carbon footprint of his business Hodgins grows hops at a community garden in Boyle Heights. The fruits from which each brew derives its flavoring are leftover fruits from a local grocery delivery service Good Eggs. Each step in the brewing process eliminates unnecessary resources and guarantees that little to no water is wasted.

    Dry River Brewery provides a stunning example of how businesses can adapt to drought conditions and reduce the amount of water waste still occurring in major metropolitan areas in California. While Dry River Brewery will market specifically to the environmentally conscious and may get a sales boost from their image, it’s clear that Hodgins is a dedicated environmentalist who seeks to genuinely make a difference while pursuing an entrepreneurial endeavor he loves.

    In addition to raising awareness of the drought, the Dry River Brewery hopes to sustain their zero-waste methods and serve as an example for other businesses and breweries. Adjusting to consider both the environment and one’s profit margin is not an impossible task, and if more businesses follow Hodgins’s example, we’ll greatly reduce the severity of our water shortage. Along with the Hodgins, anyone is capable of reducing their carbon footprint during a drought: Utilize Pelican Water’s Infuser Bottles to break your dependence on non-reusable plastic water bottles. Getting one’s water waste down to zero may be a stretch, but if a brewery can do it, why can’t you?