Thursday, 10 May 2012

Green beer

This news story about a town in Massachusetts that is attempting - quite rightly - to ban bottled water got me thinking about the environmental impact of my favourite water-based drink, beer.

There are two ways beer can impact on the environment, how it's produced and how it's distributed.  Homebrewing is I guess the greenest method of producing beer and also of course the oldest. In England, the only thing the Anglo-Saxon alewife may have done that had any environmental effect was to light a fire to dry the malt. The Industrial Revolution in the late eighteenth century obviously transformed brewing with the use of coal-driven steam power.

Cask beer still has an environmental edge on industrially produced lagers and keg beers though, both in the lack of chemicals used in its production and the fact that it's usually transported over shorter distances than the tankers full of Guinness or Carling. The ideal method would probably be that used by Youngs in South London for many years, beer in wooden casks delivered by a horse-drawn dray.

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