Iowa Waste Reduction Center and Iowa State University's Brewing Science Lab Join Forces for Sustainable Brewing Solutions

Joining Forces for Sustainable Brewing Solutions

For over five years, the mission of the Iowa Waste Reduction Center’s (IWRC) Iowa Green Brewery Certification (IGBC) program at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) has been to assist breweries in, and recognize them for, implementing practices and strategies that minimize their overall environmental impact. As of today, over 30 breweries in Iowa have been awarded a level of certification by the IWRC, but the latest brewery they have worked with isn’t really a brewery at all, it’s Iowa State University (ISU). 

The team of Jennifer Trent and Joe Bolick set out to Ames on May 19, 2023 to audit the Iowa State Brewing Science Lab, run by Professor Robert C. Brown who teaches a class that explores the science and art of brewing beer. The audit found the on-campus brewing science lab to be flawlessly run and in pristine condition. “An Iowa State student brewer typically spends the first part in the lecture room, then moves into our lab,” said Brown. “Students can then spend half of the day here brewing and some can even spend a whole day based on their brew.”

What started as a straightforward audit of the on-campus brew lab led to further discussions about sustainability and brewing culminating in an awesome partnership. On June 3, the UNI IWRC and the Iowa State Brewing Science Lab came together to share a tent at the Iowa Craft Brew Fest, located at Water Works Park in Des Moines. The ISU side of the tent shared samples of their handcrafted beer that Brown and his team developed with insight from IWRC staff. The beer they served is considered carbon-negative with offsets from on-campus biochar and even uses yeast that has been sent up to space. The IWRC talked about their work with breweries and handed out prizes to attendees. The day was filled with lots of games, good people and, of course, refreshing beer and cider from some of the best breweries in Iowa.