With St. Patrick’s Day rapidly approaching, there’s obviously one question on everyone’s mind: Which beer should I drink on this special day?
The answer is literally any Irish beer. But if you’re an environmentalist, the question can be a little more complicated.
Beer is currently in a bit of a bind. Drought in many areas of the world, particularly California, has brought brewers a decent amount of stress over their product’s primary ingredients. Barley, the second ingredient of beer, is being threatened by both heavy rains and drought. And hops — the idol of the craft beer industry — have been suffering from warmer temperatures. Needless to say, drought, heavy rains, and warmer temperatures are all symptoms of human-caused climate change.
With climate change impacting so many aspects of beer (not to mention other foods, products, and natural spaces), an environmentalist may want to choose a beer from a climate-conscious brewer. Fortunately, the non-profit Ceres compiled a list of brewing companies that are reducing greenhouse gas emissions, using clean energy, and investing in sustainable technology.
The list includes Guinness, whose parent company Diageo brews St. Patrick’s Day favorites like Kilkenny, Harp Lager, Smithwick’s. According to Ceres, Diageo’s St. James’s Gate brewery in Dublin uses a combined heat power system to reduce energy usage and lower CO2 emissions; offsets all its carbon emissions from business air travel; and reuses or composts 100 percent of its solid waste.
It also includes Red Hook, which is funding a project to capture and reuse the biogas it creates while brewing; Smuttynose, which has a LEED Gold-certified brewery; and Kona Brewing Company, which gets 50 percent of its electricity from a roof-mounted solar panel system. Ceres’ full list of breweries can be found here.
Now, these aren’t all the breweries in the world that are working to reduce emissions. They’re just the ones who’ve signed the non-profit’s Brewery Climate Declaration, which states that tackling climate change is not only necessary but actually good for business. “Tackling climate change is one of America’s greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century,” the declaration states, “and it’s simply the right thing to do.”
For one, the list doesn’t include Outer Banks Brewing Station, which told the Triangle Business Journal last year that it was the first brewery in the country to be powered by wind, and that it was cutting costs by doing it. Nor does the list include Abita Brewing Company, which in 2013 installed 340 solar panels on its warehouse roof while touting economic benefits.
There also aren’t a good amount of truly Irish options on Ceres’ list aside from Guinness. So here are a few other options: Ireland’s Carlow Brewing Company signed a deal last year to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy. And the Porterhouse Brewing Company — which is Ireland-based but has a bar in New York City — says they “brew with renewable energy and ethically dispose of the spent grain and hops.”