This post is part of the 21 Days to a Manlier Green series
You don’t have to drink beer to be a man. But, if you are going to reach for a malted brew, make sure your beer is green – and I’m not talking about cheap beer colored with food dye.
Beer – Past and Present
Beer is thought to be the first fermented beverage with a history that begins soon after humans began cultivating grains in Mesopotamia. Hammurabi’s code even included laws regarding beer, stating that beer parlor owners who overcharged customers would be punished by drowning. Today, beer is a worldwide industry; yearly, more than 133 billion liters of beer are produced. Projected global sales for 2015 are expected to be $630 billion. The United States is ranked twelfth for beer consumption per capita, yet is 2nd overall by volume. American’s consume roughly 80 liters per person per year.
How Beer Is Made and Associated Waste Streams
Beer is made from grains, water, hops, and yeast. Sugars are extracted from the grains and then fermented by the yeast to produce alcohol. The grains, typically barely, are milled and then put through a mashing process where they are soaked in hot water for an hour or more causing the sugar to be released from the grain.
The liquid, referred to as wort, is then drained off and the remaining grain is now a waste product, known as spent grain. The wort is then boiled along with hops and other spices. After boiling, the wort is cooled and placed into a fermentation chamber where yeast is added. This is the point where brewing ends and the fermentation process takes over, converting the sugar in the wort to alcohol.
The fermented product is siphoned from the fermentation vessel and added to a maturation tank, leaving settled yeast and other particulates behind. After the beer has been allowed to mature, the beer is ready to be packaged where it continues to ferment and age over a period of weeks in order to produce carbonation.
Waste and emissions are produced along the many stages of beer production, packaging, transport, sale, and consumption. The complete life-cycle of beer begins with the planting of the crops that are the initial ingredients of beer and extends all the way to your consumption and then even beyond when you choose to recycle, reuse, or throw out the empty container.
The more you think about the complete process of making beer, a larger and larger confusing web of impact begins to form.
Environmental Impact and What You Can Do?
What environmental impact does you beer have and what are the steps you can take to reduce you eco-footprint as you relax with an adult beverage? This infographic has some ideas that you should consider: