Pouring a Glass of Sustainability

Current Professional MBA student Nickolas Hoch B’16 and alumnus Dorian Evans B’16 recently launched Supply Chain Tomorrow, a job board specifically for supply chain management professionals. He shared the following post on Supply Chain Tomorrow’s blog; you can view the original post here.

Nickolas Hoch

There is no doubt that the craft brewing industry has erupted over the years, but there are many sustainability and supply chain challenges to overcome in this industry. Whether trying to reduce waste or working to improve efficiencies, the brewing industry has innovated some creative solutions to improve their impact on the world. What are some of the challenges and solutions in the industry? Let’s take a look!

  1. Water Consumption & Waste: Water consumption and wastewater is one of the largest issues within the brewing industry as the industry uses water in a variety of ways. Sierra Nevada has their own on-site water treatment plant, which reduces 95% of contaminants in the wastewater (Chino Sustainability Map, 2020). They also reuse water from their bottling operations saving 2.5 million gallons annually (Chino Sustainability Map, 2020). The Anderson Valley Brewing Company is able to treat and use 100% of their wastewater in animal pastures and crop fields. Both of these companies are greatly helping the draught-stricken state of California.
  2. Spent Grains: “… spent grains are generally used for the production of low value compost; livestock feed or disposed of in landfill as waste. Alternatively, the spent grains can be hydrolyzed for the production of xylo-oligosaccharides, xylitol, or pentose-rich culture media (Olajire, 2020).”Allagash Brewing Company sends their spent grains to farmers in the area to use as feed (Sustainability, 2020). Many other breweries are doing similar types of upcycling to reduce their waste impacts such as Ninkasi Brewery.
  3. Brewing Efficiencies: Brewers need to begin to utilize new technologies for energy efficient brewing to reduce waste, water usage, and emissions. While New Belgium Brewing is showing worse energy numbers than previous years, this is due to opening up a new plant shifting their baseline efficiencies.  To offset this, New Belgium Brewing is exploring “updated automated control systems to save water, energy, and beer loss (2018 Sustainability Report, 2018).” In New York, Brooklyn Brewing uses new technologies to aid in their brewing efficiency consisting of high-efficiency boilers, integrated steam reclamation, and anaerobic digester (Sustainability, 2020).

Besides all of these incredible things happening at breweries, breweries are also implementing tremendous amounts of solar panels, installing charging station for electric vehicles, and encouraging their employees to bike when they can. Many breweries are taking advantage of having local farmers nearby and purchase crops from them, have fields of their own, and plant drought-resistant plants in dry areas.  Breweries are also encouraging their employees to use vacation time to volunteer in order to help their surrounding communities. Now you might be wondering, “Where is the supply chain impact?” Supply chain is sustainability in a lot of cases and brewing is a great example of how.  Whether it is the supply and disposal of water or the sourcing of hops and grains, sustainable brewing is all around us!  Where are you seeing it and how do you see sustainability growing in this industry?


“2018 Sustainability Report.” New Belgium Brewing, 2018, http://www.newbelgium.com/globalassets/sustainability/force-for-good-digital-report.pdf.

“About Us.” Anderson Valley Brewing Company, 2020, avbc.com/about/.

“Chico Sustainability Map.” Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., 10 Mar. 2020, sierranevada.com/map/chico-sustainability-map/.

Olajire, Abass A. “The Brewing Industry and Environmental Challenges.” Journal of Cleaner Production, vol. 256, 2020, pp. 1–20., doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2012.03.003.

“Sustainability.” Allagash Brewing Company, 2020, http://www.allagash.com/about/sustainability/.

“Sustainability.” Brooklyn Brewery, 2020, brooklynbrewery.com/sustainability/.