News Feature | August 5, 2015

Beer Makers Brew Support For Clean Water

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

Beer makers are hopping into a heated political fight: climate change.

A group of breweries has signed a so-called “climate change declaration” as part of a new campaign to promote sustainability policies. They argue that shifting weather patterns threaten their bottom line by endangering two key ingredients: hops, a crop that needs stable weather conditions, and water.

The breweries have pledged to “cut greenhouse gas emissions from their operations and call for strong national action to address climate change,” according to Huffington Post. They are also calling for “strong national action to address climate change.”

“Warmer temperatures and extreme weather events are harming the production of hops, a critical ingredient of beer that grows primarily in the Pacific Northwest. Rising demand and lower yields have driven the price of hops up by more than 250 percent over the past decade,” according to Ceres, a sustainability nonprofit that organized the campaign.

“Clean water resources, another key ingredient, are also becoming scarcer in the West as a result of climate-related droughts and reduced snow pack,” Ceres continued.

New Belgium, Odell, and Aspen breweries have signed onto the campaign, according to The Colorado Independent. Smuttynose Brewing Company, Guinness and Allagash Brewing Company have also joined the effort.

Kim Stevens, a campaign director for Environment Colorado, explained the stakes are high for brewers when it comes to environmental politics.

“New Belgium was the first to really step up and develop this whole sustainability department and start taking stances on issues that impact brewing,” she said, per the Independent. “Clean water is a no-brainer. You can’t have beer without clean water. They’re also impacted by climate change because growing hops requires really stable conditions.”

Corey Odell, the sustainability coordinator at Odell Brewing, said brewers are increasingly interested in sustainability.

“I definitely think it’s a trend in the industry, in large part due to our collaborative nature,” Odell said, per the report. “In addition to protecting the environment and helping communities, lowering our usage lowers our costs.”  

Earlier this year, some brewers spoke up in support of the EPA’s new water regulation, an update on the Clean Water Act slated to take effect this month.

Mounting a "Brewers For Clean Water" campaign under the tagline "Clean Water, Great Beer," the Natural Resources Defense Council asked breweries to support the EPA position and take a "clean water pledge." At least forty craft beer companies signed onto the campaign, reports said.

"You can't make great beer without clean water. That's why our brewery is proud to join the NRDC and its more than one million supporters to stand up for clean water and the Clean Water Act," said the pledge on the NRDC website.

For the latest drought stories, visit Water Online’s Water Scarcity Solutions Center.