Sustaining Craft: An Insight into the Sustainable Practices of Craft Breweries
Michael Jacob, Drinks Sector Manager, Bord Bia
Irish consumers and customers alike place a strong importance on sustainability when choosing a craft beer. This was reflected in Bord Bia’s Cultivating Craft research, which found that 49% of consumers found a craft beer’s sustainability messaging appealing and retailer buyers noted that “Sustainability is front & foremost. That will come up with any discussion you have with us now” (Bord Bia, 2021).
This demand for sustainability has led to increased focus on the practices of breweries, becoming a core aspect of the brewing community.
Sustainability is again the main focus in episode 6 of the podcast series A local Craft Beer, where three breweries, all three members of the Origin Green programme, participated in the filming and provided testimony of the sustainable nature of brewing in Ireland.
Rick LeVert from Kinnegar Brewery, Wim De Jongh from Hope Beer and David Walsh-Kemmis from Ballykilcavan Brewing Company came together to discuss sustainability in the sector and what each brewery is doing to create a sustainable future for craft beer.
At Kinnegar based in Donegal, the team installed solar panels at the beginning of 2022 and they are now producing 30-35% of their own electricity on site. Rick believes that sustainable practices like this not only have economic benefits for Kinnegar but are also making them better brewers. By looking at their brewing process through a lens of sustainability, they were able to find better efficiencies and methods to produce their products.
At Hope Beer, they believe that the best way to manage your sustainability targets is to measure them. Their Origin Green plan has allowed them to measure their sustainability activities and build on them year on year. Sustainability has always been core to Hope Beer. One area of focus for them is engaging with local community initiatives as much as possible. More than 50% of Hope’s sales come from North County Dublin and supporting initiatives in their community has been key to their success both sustainably and in a business sense.
Ballykilcavan Brewing Company was born from David’s family farm in Stradbally, in county Laois. The farm is at the core of their sustainability strategy. They take barley from their farm and have it malted in Athy, just eight miles from the brewery. The spent grain is then re-distributed on the farm to help boost soil nutrition, meaning there is no organic waste in this circular process.
These are just three examples of companies adopting sustainability as a core aspect of their brewery. There is a strong community amongst the Irish craft brewers, with many helping each other to achieve their sustainability goals by re-using equipment, industry initiatives and sharing insights on sustainable practices.
Irishbeer.ie shows a live location of craft breweries within the local community
To find out more about these insights and sustainability in the wider brewing sector listen to the Sustainable Brewing episode of Craft Community: A Local Irish Beer Podcast and other brewery’s sustainability credentials via the podcast’s blog and Bord Bia’s Origin Green website.
Bord Bia 2021. Cultivating Craft Futures in Ireland [Online]. Accessed from: https://www.bordbia.ie/globalassets/bordbia2020/industry/insights/new-publications/cultivating-craft-futures-in-ireland_web_july21.pdf