Sustainable Sips: World’s Best Eco-Friendly Breweries

Photo courtesy of momente via Shutterstock.

Photo courtesy of momente via Shutterstock.

Beer has always been a much-loved staple of the beverage world, and the current craft beer boom is sweeping the world of ales. Some independent breweries, however, are not only interested in producing unique and delicious beers: they are also especially conscious of their impact on the environment. From organic brewing practices to sustainable infrastructure, these eco-breweries are the perfect mix of green and amber.

Here are ten of the best eco-friendly breweries from the USA to Australia and beyond:

Photo courtesy of Ninkasi Brewery.

Photo courtesy of Ninkasi Brewery.

1. Ninkasi Brewery, Oregon

Ninkasi, in the city of Eugene, Oregon, is one of the finest eco-friendly breweries around. Not only do they work to save water and keep it clean for the environment, they recycle their cardboard, paper and even spent grain, donating it to local cattle farmers for feed. Voted one of the 100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon, employees are encouraged to cycle to work, and they even run a non-profit program called “Beer is Love,” offering fundraising help to worthy organizations.

Photo courtesy of Trinity Brewing.

Photo courtesy of Trinity Brewing.

2. Trinity Brewing, Colorado

Trinity Brewing in Colorado Springs is housed in a 100% recycled building. They use as many local and raw materials as possible in their brewing, also recycling their food compost, grain, glass, plastic and metal waste. Contributing to the taste of their artisanal beers is their method of storing brews in upcycled wine barrels. They also run weekly “Giving Beer” evenings, in which $1 from every beer sold is donated to a local non-profit.

Photo courtesy of West Coast Brewery.

Photo courtesy of West Coast Brewery.

3. West Coast Brewery, New Zealand

West Coast Brewery on New Zealand’s scenic South Island offers a range of organic beers. Some, like the Green Fern Organic Lager, are even vegan and preservative-free. West Coast is also located in a truly beautiful part of the world. If you’re traveling around the New Zealand south-west coast, be sure to head there for excellent local brews and their brewery tour.

Photo courtesy of Heritage Brewing Co.

Photo courtesy of Heritage Brewing Co.

4. Heritage Brewing Co, Virginia

Run by war veterans, the Heritage Brewing Co in Manassas, Virginia is a brewery partly built from repurposed and reused items. Heritage not only makes great beers, but also works to recycle as much water as possible, and to use organic and locally-sourced ingredients. This unusual craft brewery is only located about 30 minutes from Washington DC, so you can make a day trip of it if you live in the capital.

Photo courtesy of Tilted Shed Ciderworks.

Photo courtesy of Tilted Shed Ciderworks.

5. Tilted Shed Ciderworks, California

An article on green breweries doesn’t only have to be about beer; there are plenty of excellent eco-friendly cideries around, too. One such establishment is the Tilted Shed Ciderworks in Sonoma County, California. Tilted Shed’s farm is 100% organic and sustainable, and they grow dozens of different heirloom apple varieties on-site. To save water they wash their apples in a closed recirculating system and use deep drip irrigation in their orchards. The result is a delicious, organic and environmentally-friendly cider. Visit to sample their range at their charming tasting room.

Photo courtesy of Hardywood Park Craft Brewery.

Photo courtesy of Hardywood Park Craft Brewery.

6. Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, Virginia

The large and modern Hardywood Park Craft Brewery in Richmond, Virginia runs on 100% sustainable energy, including 99% wind power. They also employ water saving practices and recycle their spent grain and packaging. Head to Hardywood to try their famous Hardywood Singel, or one of their fruit series, ranging from peach to raspberry to coffee beers. Even the bar is made from upcycled wood and fixtures.

Photo courtesy of Hops and Grain.

Photo courtesy of Hops and Grain.

7. Hops and Grain, Texas

Hops and Grain, in the fabulous city of Austin, Texas, is committed to helping the environment in a number of ways. Not only does the brewery use wind power and easily-recyclable aluminium cans, but they donate 1% of their annual revenue to local environmental non-profits. And as if that wasn’t enough, they even turn their spent grain into dog biscuits! They also experiment with different craft beers in their “3 bbl pilot system” room, and offer up the results exclusively in their on-site taproom, so a visit to their brewery is a unique experience.

Photo courtesy of Deschutes Brewery.

Photo courtesy of Deschutes Brewery.

8. Deschutes Brewery, Oregon

There are plenty of breweries that save water and recycle, but Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon, takes it all a few steps further. They have pledged to return one billion clean gallons of water to the Deschutes River annually, as well as offsetting 100% of their power usage from renewable sources. They even donate a dollar from every barrel to community organizations; $335,000 this year alone.

Photo courtesy of Ska’s Brewery.

Photo courtesy of Ska’s Brewery.

9. Ska’s Brewery, Colorado

100% wind powered and solar lit, Ska’s Brewery in Durango, Colorado, not only uses sustainable energy in their brewery, but in their vans, too. They also use environmentally-friendly aluminium cans and recycled packaging materials and donate tens of thousands of dollars to charity per year. Customers can even recycle their six-pack containers at the brewery in exchange for beer. The building itself is largely recycled, too; their insulation is even made out of old jeans!

Photo courtesy of Mountain Goat.

Photo courtesy of Mountain Goat.

10. Mountain Goat, Australia

The brilliant Mountain Goat was not only Australia’s first 100% organic beer maker. The brewery is also made from recycled materials, powered by solar energy and linked to a huge rainwater tank. They also pH neutralize their waste water and encourage their employees to bike to work.All their brews are delicious, but if you haven’t tried Mountain Goat before, be sure to try their malty and hoppy Fancy Pants amber ale. Oh, and every single one of their beers is organic and vegan.

Do you know of a great eco-friendly brewery? Please share in the comments below!

By Gemma King

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Gemma King

Coffee Connoisseur Columnist
Gemma King is an Australian francophile living between Paris, Melbourne and Richmond Virginia. A PhD student in French cinema at Melbourne Uni and the Sorbonne, she's also an eternal nomad, a film buff, a French lecturer, a coffee reviewer, an English teacher and a travel writer. As la muséophile, she spends her Sundays exploring and reviewing the lesser-known museums of Paris at www.lesmuseesdeparis.com.

7 Comments

  1. Puleeeez. All the above breweries that aren’t putting 100 percent of their beer in kegs or cans should be removed from the list. Glass is an atrociously wasteful container material that requires tons more carbon to transport than aluminum. Yet another reason such lists are mostly (yay Ska!) bogus.

    1. @James: While I can see your point, I’ll have to respectfully disagree. For one, certain items are necessary for the craft. I would never drink a craft beer out of a can if I wanted to enjoy the full aromas and flavors of the drink. Cans also produce waste that glasses do not. And if the brewery is purchasing glass from a local artisan than this is also putting money back into the local economy. There are many ways to look at this point.

  2. Thank you for the recommendations – especially the vegan ones! This has inspired me to seek out some of sustainable breweries in the UK – we will let you know what we find out!

  3. The fact that the drinks here are beer and are quite not good for the health, it doesn’t matter anymore if they are eco-friendly or not. There are so many useful products one can sell that can guarantee 100-percent environmental. Menstrual cup is a good idea! It does not help serve Mother Earth, but save women from harm of irritation and other period-related illnesses.

    1. @Eco-Friendly: Beer is actually very good for your health. Like everything, the key is moderation. Drinking alcohol promotes health when done in moderation.

  4. This is awesome! Great to see some eco friendly options out there for beer drinkers. I’ll definitely have to keep an eye out for these. Thanks for sharing!

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