There are so many reasons to make your own beer and wine at home rather than buying from the supermarket. Not only is it a fun and rewarding hobby, it works out cheaper per glass. One advantage you might not have thought about is how much better it is for the environment. Here are 10 great reasons why homebrew is the green option – with tips to make the process even greener!
1. Your drinks don’t travel as far.
Traditional wines from vineyards in Europe, the Americas and Australia are routinely shipped and sold on the other side of the world, giving them a huge carbon footprint. That bottle of Bordeaux in a London restaurant will have a footprint of about 1200g of CO2. Beer is often a better choice, but it can also be less obvious how far it’s travel led. The carbon footprint for a pint ranges from 300g of CO2e for a locally brewed ale at the pub, to 900g CO2e for a heavily-transported bottled beer from the shop.
2. You can buy local ingredients…
It’s not just the transport of the finished product to take into account when considering environmental impact. With mass-produced beers, you often have no way of knowing how far the ingredients have travelled from field to brewery. With homebrew, you can make sure to buy local, organic ingredients wherever possible.
3. … or you can grow your own.
It’s possible to grow your own hops. You can also grow any other fruit and vegetables you include in your drinks. Perhaps the lowest impact is making wine from foraged fruits, such as blackberries.
4. You can re-use your yeast.
Did you know you can re-use yeast? In fact, it’s a common practice even in commercial breweries. The yeast improves from batch to batch, up to about five or six times. Harvest yeast from the bottle of a beer you’ve enjoyed and cultivate it in the fridge.
5. You can recycle your grains.
If you’re an all-grain brewer, you’ll be left with several kilograms of spent grains each time you brew. There are many uses for these rather than throwing them away. You can use spent grain to make bread, cookies and brownies; use it as animal feed for cows, pigs and chickens; make dog treats; or simply add them to the compost heap for use in the garden
6. You can ditch plastic.
Plastic pollution has become an environmental crisis. Homebrewing means you have the choice to completely avoid disposable plastic. Swap plastic fermenting buckets for glass carboys or stainless steel, and use glass bottles instead of plastic.
7. You can reuse materials.
Whether you use plastic or glass bottles, you can reuse them a number of times, considerably reducing waste in comparison to shop-bought drinks. You can also use reusable stoppers, such as corks or swing-top stoppers. A further step is switching to kegs, which can be used to both ferment and serve your beer – so as well as reducing waste it makes your brewing life easier!
8. You can reduce water waste.
Homebrew uses much less water, but there are also green ways to reduce the amount of water waste further. When chilling a batch of homebrew beer down, you’ll normally need a lot of water to get it to the right temperature. You can reuse this water for washing your equipment, or use it as animal drinking water or for watering your plants.
9. You can reuse the CO2 from fermentation.
CO2 is a waste product of brewing which you might not have considered. It is produced in large quantities during fermentation, and normally escapes into the air. It is possible to harvest the CO2 created during fermentation using Mylar balloons, and then use it to carbonate and serve your beer. Alternatively, direct your CO2 to a greenhouse – your plants will thank you!
10. You can clean green.
It’s important to keep your brewing equipment clean and sterilised, but you need to take care in choosing the cleaning agents you use. Many cleaning agents can have a negative impact on the environment as you wash them down the drain or into the earth. VWP is widely considered green and clean. If you prefer to avoid chemicals altogether, try using steam to sanitize with.