Six Eco-friendly Beers for National Beer Day...and Any Day

By Dakin Hewlett

April 5, 2016


Photo by iStockphoto/Kold_Alex

April 7 was National Beer Day—the day that brew-loving Americans raise a glass (or several) to commemorate when the sale of beer was legalized in the United States after 13 years of Prohibition. In honor of that occasion, we've picked six eco-friendly beers from our favorite sustainability-minded American brewing companies for you to enjoy. We promise they will make you hoppy…!


 Full Sail Brewing Company's Amber Ale is making headlines for its malty flavor and for its commitment to sustainable brewing techniques. The sweet ale was recently awarded a silver medal for best Amber Pale Ale at the 2015 U.S. World Beer Awards. Better still, the Oregon-based brewery manages to produce award-winning brews while consuming less than three gallons of water per gallon of beer produced (the average brewery uses six to eight gallons of water) and runs a water conservation program that benefits the entire Hood River community. The brewers also reduce waste by giving pure yeast solids left over from the beer filtration process to farmers to use as animal feed. If low-impact brewing doesn’t impress you, the amber ale’s ingredient list is sure to. Full Sail beers contain no artificial colors, stimulants, sugars, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, fluoride, or animal products.


Celebrate the beautiful Spring weather with a Citradelic Tangerine IPA from New Belgium Brewing. According to the company’s website, the IPA is infused with “citrusy Mandarina Bavaria, tropical Azzaca, and fruity Galaxy for a colorful explosion that’s grounded by just a touch of malty sweetness.” Located in Fort Collins, Colorado, the brewery works hard to reuse or eliminate waste and diverts 99.9 percent of its waste from the landfill. New Belgium also stays environmentally conscientious by keeping track of its greenhouse gas emissions and monitoring its water usage. Over 20 water submeters throughout the brewery help identify spots in the production process where water efficiency can be improved.


Inspired by the Cuyahoga River Fire that sparked the environmental movement of the late 1960s, Burning River Pale Ale by Great Lakes Brewing Company packs a punch of flavor. The brewery’s love for the punny and ironic is evident in the ale’s flavor profile: “Crisp and bright, with refreshing flickers of citrus and pine that ignite the senses (not our local waterways).” The Great Lakes brewers also show their eco-consciousness by repurposing everything they can; leftover “spent” grain becomes compost or soil amendment on the brewery’s farms, and french fry oil is used to fuel the resident “Fatty Wagon,” an energy-efficient shuttle that delivers brewpub guests to downtown sporting events. Every summer, the brewery also hosts the Great Lakes Burning River Fest in Cleveland, Ohio to commemorate the Cuyahoga River Fire by floating lit pyres at the mouth of the river.


Alaskan Brewing Company's Freeride American Pale Ale has the crisp presence of Juneau’s glacier-fed water, mixed with Pacific Northwest hops. The company believes in “beer powered beer,” which means aiming to have a zero-net negative effect on the environment. For example, Alaskan was the first brewing company in the United States to install and operate a carbon dioxide reclamation system, which captures and cleans carbon dioxide. The brewery also uses a mash filter press in order to reduce the amount of water, malt, and hops they need to make beer. Undeterred by the fact that Juneau has no cows to feed their “spent” grain, Alaskan Brewing Company ships its leftover grain to farmers and ranchers in the Pacific Northwest.


Brooklyn Brewery's American Amber Lager is an aromatic and refreshing beer that is best enjoyed with a plate of co-founder Steve Hindy’s beer-can chicken (and a side of sustainability). In 1996, the urban brewery had its facility fitted with heat exchange systems to reduce energy demand during the brewing process. Since then, the company has added high-efficiency boilers and LED lights in its facilities to reduce energy use. If you're in New York City, don't forget to check out Brooklyn Brewery’s newly renovated tasting room and enjoy new bar facade, shelving, and signs made from used wood barrels.


If you prefer a darker beer, check out Sierra Nevada Brewing Company's classic Porter. Notes of black coffee and cocoa give this beer a deep malt flavor. The beer may be rich, but the company’s longtime commitment to sustainability makes drinking it guilt-free. The brewing company boasts one of the largest privately-owned solar arrays in the country, which accounts for 20 percent of its electricity. Sierra Nevada's hops are all homegrown and the Chico, California brewery’s composting system has transformed more than 5,000 tons of organic waste into compost which is then used in its fields and gardens. We’ll cheers to that!