Monday, December 1, 2008

Green beer packaging

I don't drink beer, and in the past I seldom gave beer a second thought. Then, I started picking up other people's discarded recyclables, and my recycling bin quickly filled up with beer bottles and cans. I soon came to realize that the way beer was packaged constituted an environmental problem, especially given the number of cans and bottles not recycled.

A beer drinking friend just showed me a fascinating article on the environmental benefits of purchasing beer from brewpubs. I'd barely been aware of the existence of brewpubs, but apparently they're more common than I thought. They sell beer brewed on the premises, which means that the kegs and growlers (containers for beer) can be reused over and over again. This means no single-use bottles or cans, and no trucks hauling heavy cases of beer across the country. It sounds wonderful.

Part of me wants to find the addresses for local brewpubs and encourage my beer drinking friends to patronize them instead of bars and restaurants selling canned or bottled beers. However, most of the drinkers I know do the majority of their drinking in private homes, so brewpubs will be useful to them only if customers are allowed to bring in empty bottles and have them filled to take home. The friend who made me aware of the brewpub article said that, as far as he knows, no local brewpub does this.

Still, at least in principle, beer from brewpubs seem to be an excellent alternative to beer sold in heavy glass bottles or plastic-lined aluminum cans. Although I'll never patronize a brewpub myself, for the sake of the environment I want to keep an eye on local brewpubs' offerings and make the information available to eco-minded friends who drink.

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