Sierra Nevada has a bold reputation for great-tasting beer and eco-friendly practices that are the envy of breweries across the nation. The seventh largest brewery in the country, Sierra Nevada is also the “greenest” brewery on the list. Aside from its immense green energy sources, including the largest private solar-panel display in the country, equally impressive are its efforts to reduce natural resource consumption.
Its conservation effort revolves around water quality and the company gives back to the very resource it needs most—when you produce over a million barrels of beer annually, those efforts and the gallons really add up. From Salmon-Safe-certified hop fields to an in-house water-treatment facility, including its own storm-water-management system, Sierra Nevada returns every ounce of water it can to our favorite resource.
- Established: 1979.
- Home: Chico, California; Mills River, North Carolina.
- Local Waters: Sacramento River (CA); Mills River (NC).
- Flagship Beer: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
- Annual Production: 1,200,000 barrels.
- Powered By: The largest privately owned solar-panel array in the country; 10,751 panels in Chico contribute 2 megawatts to the energy grid and 2,200 panels in Mills River produce 600 kW.
- Endeavors: Sierra Nevada uses Salmon-Safe-certified hops, employees conduct regular litter cleanups along sections of the French Broad River, and the company is a regular sponsor of the Wild & Scenic Film Festival.
- Mantra: “Sustainability means recognizing the impacts associated with our operations and making a conscious effort to reduce them. We are committed to leaving the smallest footprint possible without jeopardizing our high standards for quality.”
SweetWater Brewing Co.
Maybe trout fishing isn’t the first thing people think about when they think of Atlanta, Georgia—then again, maybe beer isn’t either. The center of the ninth largest metropolitan area in the country isn’t exactly perfect habitat for a coldwater fishery. However, there is a fishery open year round thanks to the Buford Dam, a power-producing plant on the Chattahoochee River system. Protecting and keeping the waters running clean below Buford is an endless endeavor that would not be possible without the help of companies like the SweetWater Brewing Company.
Aside from appreciating its natural resources, SweetWater also has the ultimate logo for the thirsty angler window-shopping at the local beverage store cooler—an iconic jumping trout that is as aesthetic as it is fitting for a company that has put so much hard work into protecting Atlanta’s only trout fishery.
Every year, led by fly fishing enthusiast and owner Freddy Bensch, SweetWater throws one of the biggest parties in Atlanta; the SweetWater 420 Fest. This music and arts festival has one mission; to unite the city in sustainable conservation efforts to protect the river system and the big brown trout that lurk in the cold flows below Buford dam. The often tie-dye-clad folks at SweetWater have found a terrific balance of work and play necessary to create great beer and help protect vital water resources at the same time.
- Established: 1997.
- Home: Atlanta, Georgia.
- Local Water: Chattahoochee River.
- Flagship Beer: 420 Extra Pale Ale.
- Annual Production: 220,000 barrels.
- Powered By: SweetWater plans to install a 157 kW solar array, which would be the largest private system in Atlanta. The brewery also uses a “green fleet” of cars with emissions they say are cleaner than the air going into the engine.
- Endeavors: SweetWater sponsors the SweetWater Big Float, the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, the SweetWater 420 Fest, the Waterkeeper Alliance, and Camp Twin Lakes. Mantra: “Save Our Water!”
The Deschutes River is one of Oregon’s steelheading meccas. The river itself runs through the city of Bend, and it’s along those shores the Deschutes Brewery established its reputation for quality beers and award-winning sustainability practices. The wild chromers running through the local waters and high deserts of Oregon have companies like Deschutes Brewery to thank for helping protect their natural spawning grounds.
Going the extra mile to do the right thing wherever possible is built into Deschutes Brewery’s standard operating procedure—and those folks are serious about protecting their local watershed. Every year the brewery keeps 1 billion gallons of water in the river by leasing water rights and allowing that water to run freely. This is enough to offset more than 14 times the brewery’s total water requirements and ultimately helps keep the Deschutes River running clean and cold. From a wide selection of tasty beers to its admirable efforts to protect its local watershed, this family-owned brewery has something for everyone and is gaining in popularity faster than you can drain your glass.
- Established: 1988.
- Home: Bend, Oregon.
- Local Water: Deschutes River.
- Flagship Beer: Black Butte Porter.
- Annual Production: 343,000 barrels.
- Powered By: The brewery purchases renewable energy certificates— enough to cover 113 percent of the brewery’s total energy needs.
- Endeavors: Supporters of the 1 Billion Gallons campaign, the Deschutes River Conservancy, the Freshwater Trust, the Deschutes Land Trust, and the Western Environmental Law Center.
- Mantra: “Do your best, and next time do it better.”
Seth is the Digital Content Manager for American Angler and is a self-proclaimed beer junkie. To share your thoughts, ideas, or beer recipes, you can reach him at [email protected]