For many of us beer becomes one of our five-a-day while travelling. Whether you’re a lager lover, pale ale aficionado, or low-alcohol brews keep you hoppy, it’s never been easier to find an eco-friendly alternative to the local tipple. There’s no feeling quite like ending a day of exploring with a refreshing pint or cracking open a cold one with newfound friends. But it doesn’t have to come at a cost to the climate. Just like the hostels reducing their environmental impact, these beer companies are brewing a better world.
Singapore is teaming with innovation, but behind the scenes has limited natural water sources, meaning it’s heavily dependent on rainfall collection and imported water from Malaysia. If you didn’t know, one of the key ingredients in beer is water, making brewing here tricky. Craft brewery Brewerkz has created a not-so-thirst-quenching yet sustainable solution; NEWBrew, a blonde ale made from recycled sewage water. You read that right. Jesus may have turned water into wine, but this brewery turns p*ss into pints. Don’t worry, it does taste like beer, and knowing you’re contributing to the island’s water conservation while you wander futuristic skyscrapers and bustling parks is sure to leave you flushed with pride.
Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale, Japan
Rice noodles, rice wine, sushi rice, you name it, rice is a staple in any Japanese dish. It’s such a core food group that Japan creates over 5 million tons of food waste per year, most of it coming from, you guessed it, uneaten rice. Kiuchi Brewery is working to combat that, producing ale with local rice as its main ingredient. But their sustainable initiatives don’t stop there, they’re also combatting beer waste. Discovering that pubs and restaurants were disposing of millions of litres of unsold stale beer, they now collect old kegs and distil it into gin, sending it back to the venues to reuse. If that’s not the spirit of sustainability we don’t know what is!
If you’ve been to Thailand, you’ll be glad to see this familiar face make the list. A favourite among travellers and Thai people alike, Chang is green in brand and green in nature. Named the land of smiles but for travellers tasting the Thai food it can feel like the land of tears. This lager is made with local rice that (allegedly) provides a refreshing break from the ever-spicy dishes. On top of that, their brewery is powered by solar, they recycle wastewater and have switched up their bottles and labels to make them more eco-friendly.
Saigon Green, Vietnam
Vietnamese eating and drinking culture is a communal experience. Even if you go out to eat alone, you’ll soon find yourself sharing a tiny plastic table with locals and visitors of all ages. After decades of European influence, there’s one thing the Vietnamese know, and that’s good beer. On every street corner, you’ll hear “Một – Hai – Ba – dzô” (Mot, Hai, Ba, YO!) as they cheers to their next bev. And so they should when it’s also sustainable. Saigon Green is a lager made by brewery SABECO, which puts social responsibility and the environment at the forefront. From their brewery in Ho Chi Minh, they’re improving life for local people and their workers, running community giveback schemes and providing quality work. They recycle all by-products from the brewing process and use renewable biomass boilers to generate heat that makes their beer. Cans are made from recycled aluminium, and they campaign to encourage Vietnamese people to support locally made products.
Cerveza Patagonia, Argentina
Based in the brew-tiful foothills of Patagonia, it’s no wonder this company is putting the environment first. Cerveza Patagonia has created a circular economy with bottles and packaging returned and reused again. Their beer production runs on 100% renewable energy, using wind farms to power everything they do. Chugging this beer isn’t just the perfect way to wet your whistle after a day’s hike in the Andes, but it also supports a company that drives sustainable development in the famous peaks. As part of their campaigns to stop litter-dropping in the mountains, they even collect rubbish and turn it into recycled mountain-shaped souvenirs. Una mas cerveza por favor!
Nuestra Siembra, Ecuador
A trip to Ecuador will see you meet a lot of indigenous people, from ladies in Panama hats peddling their produce in the street to the guides that help you weave through the wonders of the Andes. Most indigenous people live in the mountains and farmland far away from the cities, having honed their farming expertise over tens of thousands of years learning from Pachamama. Unfortunately, in recent years the high cost of farming has driven many of these groups into poverty.
With a mission to revive the Ecuadorian economy and the agriculture industry, Cerveceria Nacional launched a new beer brand, Nuestra Siembra, to create positive social impact and support sustainability. This bottle of blonde is made from 100% natural ingredients sourced only from small Ecuadorian farms; transforming their lives, combatting poverty and generating more than 60,000 jobs.
But that’s not the only way this beer company advocates for these communities. They’re also dedicated to celebrating the roots of native farmers and combatting discrimination, by becoming the first company in history to launch an advert spoken in the indigenous language, Quechua. Each bottle also has a QR code allowing you to trace the journey of your beer right back to its roots. Innovation and supporting a good cause? It doesn’t get much bitter than that.
Magnifica, Nossa & Legitima, Brazil
Down the Amazon River, the Brazilian government has joined forces with AmBev to craft their own eco-friendly ales. Magnifica, Nossa and Legitima are made from locally sourced cassava from smallholder farmers in rural areas of the country. Cassava – also known as Yuca – is a staple carb in the Brazilian diet, but most farmers of the root vegetable live in poverty. By producing beer using the local crop, farmers face a more fruitful future and grow what they know, instead of the previous brewing model where corporations ask farmers to grow new ingredients. From the farming itself to new jobs in transporting it, brewing these beers is creating opportunities by the barrel load, while removing carbon emissions from imported grains.
Known as the Mediterranean beer, Estrella is not only a refreshing respite from the heat of the region but a company that cares about the climate. Using 100% natural and locally sourced ingredients, they repurpose all by-products from the brewing process as feed for farm animals. Since 2014 they’ve used 100% renewable energy and have removed all plastic from their packaging, switching to biodegradable cardboard from sustainable forests. Their eco-efforts don’t stop at their doorstep, they also installed 349 recycling points around the Mediterranean coast and regularly launch campaigns to highlight climate issues.
Whether Oktoberfest is on your travel list, or you want to get into Berghain, trying German beer comes with the territory. Germans love beer so much that Pilsner is their national drink, and it was historically considered safer than drinking water, even for children.
Despite being the oldest (operating) brewery in the world after opening in 1040, Weihenstephan has been leading the way in sustainable Pilsner brewing for over 30 years. The beer and the brand are Bavarian-born and bred, using only local materials, the surplus of which is given to farmers as animal feed. A swig of this stein will have you feeling helles-a fine, as the company promotes and donates to community climate and social impact projects. Prost!
Toast Ale, UK
As a Brit, if there’s one thing we love, it’s a sarnie. Turns out, we don’t just buy bread in loaves but we also waste it in our droves; 20 million slices of it EVERY DAY to be exact! Out of 15 million tonnes of food waste in the UK, bread is binned the most. But this brewery has set out to do something about it. Instead of making beer out of barley, Toast uses surplus bread. Not only does this reduce their carbon impact on water, energy and land they don’t use to make the malt, but they’re also campaigning to fix the whole food system.
Food production is one of the biggest contributors to carbon footprint, and a whopping third of it goes to waste! Toast is campaigning to reduce food waste and restore our soils, removing carbon from our environment, allowing us to grow more nutritious food and combatting food poverty. All – yes you read that right – all of their profits go to charities fighting the cause, and they’re putting pressure on MPs to make the UK’s food system part of climate change plans. If you want to chug to a company you can really crust, make Toast your tipple of choice.
Stone & Wood, Australia
The first brewery in Australia to become a B-Corp, Stone & Wood is not only doing their bit for the scorching climate in Oz through 100% solar powered-energy, organic composting and recycled waste, but they’re on a mission to revolutionise sustainability in the whole industry. Their program, Green Feet, highlights global soil degradation and how it affects food and drink production, the environment and public health. The brewery also created its own non-profit, the inGrained Foundation, to support environmental and social charities driving positive change in their community down under. On top of that, they donate $1 for every 100L of beer sold, so a few tinnies of this from the Bottle-o could count as your good deed of the day.
If there’s one thing Aussies know, it’s their beer, and Coopers comes top of their list of faves year in, year out. While most of their competitors are run by overseas multinationals, Coopers remains the largest brewery in Oz, providing over 100,000 jobs. When it comes to the environment, they come up top trumps too, recycling and reusing most of their waste materials. From a natural gas-powered plant that runs their brewery, to a clean underground system where excess water is returned to the ocean as saltwater to give back to the ocean.
Sawmill, New Zealand
When you think of New Zealand you might think of kiwi birds, the Haka, Hobbiton, or sheep – did you know there are ten sheep for every person?! But you might not know it was the first country in the world that gave women the right to vote. And this beer company are following in those footsteps, piloting initiatives to decarbonise the whole brewing industry. Sawmill, New Zealand’s first B-Corp brewery, use carbon recapture systems to recover CO2 from beer fermentation and run their brewery on solar power. They also collect rainwater from their roof and reuse it in brewing and irrigation, saving millions of litres of water every year. Sawmill work and volunteer with Everybody Eats, a charity that turns food that would be wasted into meals for Auckland’s homeless community.
Sierra Nevada, USA
Sierra Nevada isn’t just known for its green cans of pale ale, it’s also one of the greenest breweries, with the largest solar power setup in the whole alcohol industry (10,750 solar panels!) With a zero-waste philosophy, the family-run company get creative with how they reduce and reuse materials, from composting to new technology that runs their onsite farm. Like Sawmill, they capture emissions from fermentation and reuse wastewater for irrigation and flushing toilets. Their eco-efforts focus on more than just beer production, with them swapping delivery lorries for rail to reduce carbon impact and raising their own pastured chickens to sell organic eggs in their taprooms. And it’s no surprise when employee bonuses are linked to their sustainability goals, incentivising staff to think outside the six-pack.
Fat Tire Ale, USA
This bottle of bitter from New Belgium Brewing Company was the first certified carbon-neutral beer in the world! New Belgium are leaders in pulling eco-friendly pints, the first wind-powered beer maker in the US and a self-proclaimed human-powered company. The B-Corp brewery strives for real change, campaigning for policy change in inclusivity, racial rights, climate action and environmental stewardship, as well as being the first brewery to achieve a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign Equality Index. We’ll raise a glass to that! And with a good conscience, as for every barrel sold, they donate $1 to charity, with more than $30 million donated to date. US road trip, anyone?
Helios Helles Lager, Canada
Travelling to the Great White North, the land of Niagara Falls and the Rockies, Karbon is on a mission to become the first carbon-negative brewery by 2024, meaning producing this lager will save more carbon than it emits. Brewing beer for the greener good, they work with social impact projects to create solutions for clean drinking water and restore ocean biodiversity in British Colombia. With every keg, can and two-four sold they plant trees and sea kelp in North America and use Blockchain technology to show you where and how it’s growing. What better way to wash your Timmies down than with this brewski, eh?
World tour of eco-friendly beers over, where are you travelling to first? With sustainable stubbies like these out there, making eco-friendly choices doesn’t have to be so dry. Whether you’re exploring hidden hiking trails in New Zealand or lying horizontal on the beach in Spain, we’re sure hangovers don’t feel as bad when you know you’re protecting the planet.
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