The Growing Green Brewery Movement – Kona Brewing

The "green" movement has been seen everywhere, and the beer industry is no exception.  There are several notable breweries with green initiatives that have garnered attention already, such as the solar power system being used by Sierra Nevada and MillerCoors.  However, there is one company that seems bent on being as green as possible – Kona Brewing Company on the Big Island of Hawaii.  While Kona might be headquartered in paradise, that doesn't mean that the company isn't taking steps to keep the world as clean and green as possible.

Kona Brewing Company has an enormous number of green initiatives going on right now.  For instance, they operate two pubs in the islands, and both of them are Certified Green Restaurants (certified by the Green Restaurant Association).  In addition, they brew a fully organic beer.  Their Oceanic Organic Saison is the only organic beer brewed in the state.  They have also installed a massive solar power system.  This system is actually able to generate 60% of the company's energy needs.

Other green initiatives used by Kona Brewing to reduce their carbon footprint include reusing grain from the brewing process.  After the brewery is done with them, the grain is actually given away to a local cattle farm.  Any grain not given to ranchers is used in the brewery's restaurant to make dough.  Another interesting innovation is the use of heat exchangers to reclaim and reuse waste heat generated during the brewing process.  This further offsets the company's energy usage and reduces their carbon footprint.  There are numerous other ways that the company is investing in a better world, as well.

Perhaps the most significant hurdle the company faced was in reducing their use of transportation.  As Kona Brewing is located on an island, almost everything they use or manufacture has to be shipped.  This creates pollution.  To help eliminate that pollution (as well as reduce operating costs), the company recently opened facilities on the mainland, close to the markets where their beers are sold.  That eliminates a significant amount of sea and air traffic generated by supply lines.

Kona Brewing is far from the only brewery out there with a vision of a greener world, but they might just be the most dedicated.  If more breweries take a similar stance, then some truly innovative solutions can be found to problems that affect the entire world.

Posted on January 29, 2011 and filed under The Business of Beer.