The craft beer industry has boomed over the last six years. Over 3,000 small breweries have opened across the United States since 2011 and only the ongoing purchases from major beer corporations have slowed down its rapid rate. A brewery in Louisiana was ahead of the craft beer trend when they opened up back 1986, and they were also in front of the change to have sustainable operations.
Abita Brewing Company continued to grow in popularity and has become one of the largest Southeastern breweries. They eventually opened up a Merlin brewhouse back in 2001 as they continued outgrowing other buildings. It was the first-ever beer maker to invest a lot of money in creating an energy-efficient process. The original building they created beer at has been transformed into a pub and is located at Albita Springs, which is roughly 45 miles north of New Orleans.
How is the Merlin system different than traditional beer brewing methods? explains that it “reduces boiling time and carbon dioxide emissions,” which ends up using “70 percent less energy.” They’ve since upgraded to a , which increases that efficiency.
Heat that’s produced in the brewing process is also reused. Jaime Jurado, Director of Brewing Operations at Abita, they’re able to “recover a majority of the heat so [they] net out saving energy.” Some of that is used to keep carbon dioxide as a gas. They’re able to reduce $6,000 worth of electrical costs by doing this.
Another way they save money is not filtering and treating their water. It’s incredibly important to use the best water possible as 90 percent of it creates the alcoholic beverage. The brewery gets their water straight from deep underground wells in the area. “Abita” is a Choctaw term meaning “healing waters.” When it comes to treating wastewater, they have a plant located on-site that generates energy and helps the local sewage system.
They’ve also created greener bottles to put their beer in. Instead of using traditional longneck bottles that are used by most companies, they use a “squatter bottle.” More beer companies are switching to this style with Boulevard and Lagunitas being national distributors of squatter bottles. Jurado said in the that the bottle “uses 11 percent less glass and 11 percent less energy” to create.
If that’s not enough, the company has installed solar panels on the top of their brewery. While it only generates Abita consumes, it’s just another addition to the process of eliminating CO2 emissions. The installation was covered by a Louisiana government grant and it was activated in 2013.
The brewery is helping Abita Springs’ mission to run on 100 percent renewable energy by 2030. It sets a great example for not only a small town of less than 3,000 people, but for all of us to follow when it comes to converting toward renewable energy.