By John Holl
By now even the most casual observers of American craft beer have noticed that North Carolina is fertile ground. Already home to more than 70 breweries, several of the country’s larger and respected brewers are moving in to set up new facilities. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., New Belgium Brewing Co. and Oskar Blues Brewery all announced plans to open additional locations in the Tarheel State.
All three take great pride and serve as inspirations to other brewers because of their green initiatives. At all three of their current breweries in Chico, Calif. (Sierra Nevada) Lyons, Colo. (Oksar Blues) and Fort Collins, Colo. (New Belgium), significant money has gone into environmental infrastructure and initiatives. All three say the same will be installed in their new operations, and that newer technology and site-specific upgrades will be installed. Sierra Nevada and New Belgium have said they will seek certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) council.
Leading by example to other brewers, local beer officials are also pleased with the brewer’s commitment to Mother Nature.
“Not only will they brew their fantastic beer even closer to home, but their history of sustainability initiatives will strengthen the state beer industry’s thriving commitment to protect its environment for its drinkers,” says Win Bassett, executive director of the North Carolina Brewer’s Guild.
Beverage World recently spoke with all three breweries to preview the equipment and green building designs they plan to bring to their respective new facilities.
Sierra Nevada, Mills River, N.C.
One of the country’s oldest craft breweries, Sierra Nevada’s founder Ken Grossman has long taken strong steps towards sustainability. The new brewery, about 12-miles south of Asheville, sits on nearly 100 acres and will be built with efficiency at the forefront of design.
“We’re shooting for a minimum of LEED Silver Certification for the new facility,” says Bill Manley, a brewery spokesman. However specific details are still being worked out as the brewery won’t be completed until late 2013 or early 2014. “Much of the green building stuff is a bit far down the line for us, but everything is on super production-focused timelines,” says Manley. “We’re getting the beer making part of the brewery built first, and completing the rest of it after that so much of it is still in speculation.”
He did say, however that it would mirror Chico in many ways including solar installations and use hydrogen fuel cells; the combination of those two systems generates over half of the brewery’s energy needs onsite. It also has an extensive water treatment program, and composting programs, which divert 99.6 percent of waste from landfills.
New Belgium, Asheville, N.C.
The second brewery for the-third largest craft brewery sits on 17.5 acres of what was once a Brownfield site. New Belgium is planning for a 150,000-square-foot facility that will be able to produce 400,000 barrels of beer.
Jim Spencer, New Belgium’s director of engineering, says that the brewery is still in the design phase and that it is looking at a number of options for green technology, but that New Belgium also would be seeking LEED certification.
“There are a lot of cool ideas on the table and we’re looking to see what stacks up and what can work,” he says. This includes brew kettles, specialty lighting and using materials that provide an aesthetic feel, but also can serve as a thermal envelope for the buildings.
Oskar Blues, Brevard, N.C.
When a brewery space became available in Brevard, brewery founder Dale Katechis jumped at the chance to open a new outpost for his canned beer offerings. Already familiar with the terrain from frequent bike trips and music festivals, Katechis secured a contract on a 30,000-square-foot brewery space, along with a 6,000-square-foot restaurant/music venue location.
Hoping to be open by the end of the year, Katechis says that since much of his beer travels east of the Mississippi River (from its current Colorado home), having an East Coast brewery helps recoup the investment as well as contributes to the local community and streamlines shipping costs.