At Equity, we believe that brewers should always be looking to the future, and that making beer sustainably is a big part of that. In a new blog series “Sustainability in Beer”, writer Hollie Stephens will cover the different ways that breweries can be more mindful of the environment when making beer.
In the first part of this series, we looked at ways to produce beer whilst considering environmental impact, but what happens at the brewery is just one part of the journey for the ingredients that go into your favorite beer. For brewers who want to ensure that the beer they make is as sustainable as it can be, it is important to pay attention to where the ingredients are coming from. For example, brewers might choose to work with small and local craft maltsters and hop growers, in order to support local business and reduce the carbon footprint of their beer, by limiting the miles that ingredients must travel to reach the brewery.
There is often more going into modern craft beer than water, hops, malt, and yeast. Beer made with adjuncts provides a fantastic opportunity for small breweries to partner with local artisans, producers, and farmers. Here at Equity Brewing Co, we are using coffee beans from Prelude Coffee Roasters, which feature in our coffee stout. Sourcing coffee sustainably and ethically is important to us, which is why we decided to work with the team at Prelude.
The coffee industry has a complex history on matters pertaining to transparency and sustainability, and Pryce Fischer from the Prelude team emphasizes that local partnerships (such as with Equity Brewing Co) are an important step to instigating change. “If we can build bridges to each other through collaboration, that will have a ripple effect on the way we view the whole value chain of the industries we find ourselves in,” he says.
Coffee farmer livelihoods are increasingly threatened by climate change. “The costs keep going up as farmers have to deal with changing conditions,” explains Pryce. “You can only move your farms up mountains for so long before space is gone. That's a huge oversimplification of the way climate change is affecting farmers but it's the gist of what's happening. Coffee relies heavily on cool evening temperatures and warm days.”
In many cases, growers are not receiving fair prices for their coffee beans, and it is down to coffee roasters like Prelude to work towards a more sustainable future for the coffee industry. “For companies with the means and resources, this looks like direct sourcing and relationships with farmers,” says Pryce. “For smaller companies, this looks like discerning which sourcing companies are doing all they can to empower farmers. It's hard work, but it's necessary work.” He explains that Prelude works with a sourcing company that adds an extra cost per pound, which goes directly to farmers or co-ops, in order to guarantee that farmers have a financial cushion to prepare for another successful growing season.
Sustainable ingredient sourcing has many components, and brewers should strive to consider environmental impact of the raw materials they are buying, as well as ethics. Further, they should consider whether they are supporting local small businesses and helping to ensure that their community thrives. At Equity, we are committed to continuing to forge new partnerships to ensure that our beer stays as sustainable as possible, so that you can feel even better about drinking it!