New Belgium Brewing's Green Beer: In Good Taste

THE BEST OF GREEN DESIGN: A Colorado brewery invents the recipe for green beer.

The only thing "lite" about the full-bodied beers crafted by New Belgium Brewing is the environmental impact. By reducing the energy, water and waste involved in making its award-winning Fat Tire Amber Ale and other beers, the Fort Collins, Colo.-based brewery is proving that great taste and a clear conscience are both good for business. From hops in to beer out, practically every stage of New Belgium's brewing process has been designed for greater efficiency. In the brew house, heat typically released as steam preheats incoming water. Temperature sensors automatically open windows to cool the building. Methane gas from an on-site wastewater treatment facility is piped to a generator, which produces enough electricity to cover 10 percent of the brewery's needs. New Belgium purchases the remainder of its electricity from wind farms, and offsets some of its CO2 emissions by purchasing renewable energy credits on the Chicago Climate Exchange. But according to New Belgium's sustainability specialist, Nicolas Theisen, there is always room for improvement. "We're a partner in developing a process to use the carbon dioxide byproduct from fermentation to feed fast-growing algae in silo-shaped bioreactors," he says. "The oil in the algae can be pressed to make biodiesel, and the rest can go into our waste treatment ponds to make methane."

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Co-owners Kim Jordan and Jeff Lebesch donate $1 for every barrel of beer sold to causes in New Belgium's distribution territory -- a total of more than $2 million, so far. (Photograph by Chad Hunt)
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