As craft breweries all across the country continue to push forward in their sustainability journeys, we decided to focus on one state in particular. Iowa. With help from the Iowa Green Brewery Certification program at the Iowa Waste Reduction Center over thirty, or more than one-fourth of the state’s breweries have gotten assistance or become certified through this program. To learn more about this IWRC program, you can read Program Highlight - The Iowa Green Brewery Certification.
This program has seen many innovative and unique implementations from breweries of all sizes with all sorts of different backgrounds - some of which are highlighted below.
Peace Tree Brewing Co is one of five GOLD certified Iowa Green Breweries. Certified in October 2019, the brewery has taken a great focus on its energy efficiency and resource management practices. The brewery has been outfitted with a custom-built hot air exchange system, which captures ambient heat being released off of the brewing equipment. This captured air is then able to be redistributed into the taproom, ultimately saving both energy consumption and costs for the brewery. Peace Tree has quickly become an advocate and industry leader for sustainable brewing in the state of Iowa!
A newer, smaller production brewery, Brightside Aleworks has still made sustainability a commitment within their brewing processes. A SILVER certified brewery, Brightside has developed a strategic environmental plan which outlines important processes such as brewhouse heat recovery, solid waste reduction, and process line inspections. This brewery shoes that even on a small 3 bbl production system, there is room to make sustainability a priority.
Exile Brewing Co is one of the larger breweries within Iowa, and their sustainable practices help lead to a huge reduction in areas including energy consumption, waste generation, and costs. With extensive standard operating procedures documented, Exile is able to more easily track and control their usage of water and energy. An example of this is the breweries use of ionized air for bottle rinsing, rather than water. Originally a silver certified brewery, Exile has continued to carry out their commitment to sustainable brewing, since re-certifying as a GOLD certified Iowa Green Brewery.
Reclaimed Rails Brewing Co of Bondurant, IA is a BRONZE certified brewery who has more than earned their namesake. More than eighty percent of the materials used within their facility are reclaimed. The brewery has also made commitments to resource/solid waste management, and water quality/conservation. Reclaimed Rails, like many Iowa breweries, uses local ingredients such as hops, coffee, and honey in some of their beer recipes- a true testament to supporting local.
In March of 2020, Big Grove Brewery became just the second brewery in the state of Iowa to be awarded a PLATINUM certification level from the Iowa Green Brewery Certification. Originally certified in 2018, Big Grove is another wonderful example of a brewery who continued to make progress in its sustainability journey as it grew in size and production volume. A few awesome features which you will find at Big Grove in Iowa City include permeable pavers on their patio which aid in stormwater control, their organics collection program at the facility, and their philanthropic efforts through Big Grove 4 Good. This brewery’s commitment to sustainable brewing has made them more than deserving of their PLATINUM level certification.
Franklin Street Brewing Co is another relatively small brewery who has made large efforts towards their level of sustainability. A GOLD certified brewery, Franklin Street has also implemented a unique practice within their brewhouse. The brewery has implemented a water reuse process that allows them to capture process water from brewing and cool it down, before using that water to chill wort. This process can help to significantly lower the amount of water consumption at the brewery.
The first sustainability champion within Iowa craft brewing, Singlespeed Brewing Co has surpassed all expectations for what an Iowa craft brewery could do in terms of sustainability and environmental stewardship. With too many practices to name, a few highlights of this brewery include their 103 KwH photovoltaic solar panel system on the roof of their facility. More information regarding this system can be found at Singlespeed Brewing Co - Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Case Study. The brewery, a 1927 original Wonder Bread factory is now a LEED-certified building- a tremendous accomplishment. Singlespeed is also a full-service restaurant, so has made food waste diversion (composting) a large focus within their business. Far more waste is recycled and composted than is landfilled. A leader in sustainable brewing, Singlespeed Brewing Co has been a huge advocate and teammate for breweries across the state who have wanted to make changes as well.
These seven breweries represent just a small portion of what is being done to further implement sustainable practices with the state of Iowa. Next time you’re in Iowa and looking for a sustainably brewed beer, check out the IGBC map to locate the closest green certified brewery!