Earth Day is celebrated annually on April 22 to raise awareness about the environment and sustainability, and to help inspire, support, and facilitate innovative actions for individuals and organizations to reduce their environmental impact.

Many of British Columbia’s craft breweries strive to improve their environmental sustainability on an ongoing basis. Most breweries divert the spent grains leftover after the brewing process from the landfill by giving them to local farmers who use them for animal feed or as compost. Some breweries work towards reducing their waste to near-zero levels. Others have lowered their emissions by improving their efficiency or adopting newer technologies. 

Here is an overview of how some of BC’s craft breweries keep the environment at the forefront of their business practices.

Farm Breweries

British Columbia is home to several farm-based breweries that grow barley and hops that they use in their own batches of beer. 

Abandoned Rail Brewing

As one of just a handful of farm breweries in the province, Abandoned Rail Brewing plants, grows, harvests, and uses five acres of barley onsite. This is huge in the way of reducing carbon emissions for the logistics required in ordering barley through regular channels. On top of this farming, they have tweaked their recipes and brewing techniques to be able to use their unmalted barley in each beer they make, further reducing emissions typically required in shipping and malting.

And then there’s the apples… Grown on site and supplemented by their neighbours!

Abandoned Rail Brewing can be found on the Penticton Ale Trail.

The sunny picnic area at Abandoned Rail Brewing Co. in Penticton
Abandoned Rail Brewing Co. in Penticton (photo: Abandoned Rail Brewing Co.)

Barnside Brewing 

Barnside Brewing is a true farm-based craft brewery, using its own hops (100%) and grains (wherever possible) in its products. By processing these ingredients locally (with companies like Field Five Farms in Saanichton), and brewing onsite, Barnside significantly minimizes its carbon footprint and keeps our agriculture industry strong. The farm recycles all of its spent grain, hop harvest waste, and kitchen waste by composting and reapplying as green manure to the hop fields each year. Farming practices focus on organic methods wherever possible, and utilization of integrated pest management to reduce the need for any chemical applications.

Barnside Brewing can be found on the South of the Fraser Ale Trail.

Crannóg Ales

As Canada’s first farm-based brewery, Crannóg Ales has led the way in ecologically sensitive brewing. The brewery’s central tenet is making great, classic beers sustainably, which begins with the sustainable baseline of organic certification, ensuring that everything upstream of the brewery is also organic. Organic principles are based on care for the Earth, natural systems, and people, from biodegradable cleaners and sanitizers to low-impact packaging to water reclamation and protection of agricultural land. The brewery looks after its downstream impact by reducing energy use, packaging only in reusable glass or kegs, reducing water use, and protecting its wetlands. 

In-house environmental practices go far beyond the minimalist approach of using recycled paper and getting spent grains to a farmer. From on-farm composting to water reclamation to ensuring swag is organic and sweatshop-free, social and environmental factors are the priority.

Crannóg Ales can be found on the Southern Interior Ale Trail.

Locality Brewing 

Since opening in 2021, Locality’s focus has been to reduce transportation emissions from the field all the way to your glass. They grow and/or buy more than 80% of ingredients from local farmers. They also deliver products in their EV. 

Over the past two years, with the help of Destination BC and BC Green Business audits, Locality Brewing has formulated a plan to reduce its water usage and improve wastewater recycling. With the support of a local process wastewater specialist and a grant from Destination BC, they are installing a system that will recycle their process wastewater for use around the picnic area grounds and hop yards for irrigation. The target is to commission this system and run the necessary quality testing by July, so if you visit the farm and notice some very green grass this summer, you’ll understand why.

Locality Brewing can be found on the Langley Ale Trail.

Persephone Brewing

An 11-acre farm and microbrewery on the Sunshine Coast, Persephone’s passionate team is committed to brewing amazing beer through local agriculture and community connectedness. In addition to committing to growing its own barley and hops, the farm produces organic feed for neighbouring livestock and has its on-site produce market. Persephone has twice been nominated as a “Best for the Environment” B-Corp business.

Persephone Brewing can be found on the Sunshine Coast Ale Trail.

two people walk through the greenery and flower beds towards the main building and taproom at Persephone Brewing in Gibsons, BC
Persephone Brewing Company in Gibsons, BC

Urban Breweries

BC’s urban breweries are also working hard to reduce their environmental footprint. Here are some examples.

Bridge Brewing Company — Zero Waste

Bridge Brewing has worked hard to be 99% waste-free across all aspects of its business operations. There is no garbage pickup at Bridge — everything brought in is either reused or recycled. Staff carefully examine what is bought to ensure it fits into the Zero Waste philosophy.  While recycling is great, reusing is better so Bridge created a return policy for its white plastic can toppers: bring them back clean and in reusable condition, and you will receive a 25-cent credit for each one. The record return was 800 toppers. Now that’s a lot of plastic diverted from the landfill!

Bridge Brewing can be found on the Vancouver’s North Shore Ale Trail.

Bridge Brewing in North Vancouver, BC
Bridge Brewing in North Vancouver, BC

Dog Mountain Brewing – Circular Economy

Dog Mountain Brewing took part in the Circular Economy Accelerator Program. The program looked at water usage, electricity, packaging (to and from the brewery), light fixtures, toilet flows, etc. Dog Mountain received an overall score of 50% in circularity, meaning that they are reusing, recycling, repurposing, and reducing 50% of their business operations (considered a very good score for a brewery). The brewery also ranked well below the industry average for water usage and electricity usage, despite having an electric brewhouse.

The main area where Dog Mountain excelled was in its internal reuse section with a score of 100%. The brewery buys certified used equipment for the business, and they have become adept at doing their own repairs, which further cuts down on the carbon footprint of having technicians travel to their location. They reuse everything from buckets and grain bags to Pak-Tecks, and have also sourced salvaged wood where possible for their new expansion project.

Dog Mountain Brewing can be found on the Vancouver Island Ale Trail Part II

Brewer and co-owner Robin at work in the Dog Mountain Brewing brewhouse
Brewer and co-owner Robin at work in the Dog Mountain Brewing brewhouse

Faculty Brewing – Renewable Energy

Faculty pays for 100% renewable natural gas through Bullfrog Power. Gas is used as a source of heat both for boiling the beer and to heat the building. Also, in the tasting room, beer is served straight from the bright beer tanks rather than from kegs, which reduces the amount of cleaning and saves water and chemicals. Faculty also uses carshares and shares distribution with several other Vancouver breweries.

Faculty Brewing can be found on the Vancouver – Brewery Creek Ale Trail

Faculty Brewing Co in Vancouver, BC
Faculty Brewing welcomes Vancouver craft beer buffs on Ontario St.

Phillips Brewing & Malting — Sustainability

Victoria’s Phillips Brewing has been a leader in environmental stewardship and sustainability in the craft beer industry for a long time. The brewery does a wide variety of things to reduce its footprint — most notable is its carbon recapture system, which won the brewery the 2015 Master Brewers Association of America’s Award of Excellence in Sustainability

Phillips Brewing can be found on the Greater Victoria Ale Trail.

CO2 Reclamation in action in the brewery at Phillips Brewing in Victoria
During the brewing process, a by-product of fermentation is CO2 and it’s captured with a CO2 Reclamation device. They filter this CO2 and then use it in a number of applications from carbonation of beer and soda to mitigating headspace in tanks. (photo: PJ Richards)

Tin Whistle Brewing – Certified Carbon-Neutral

Under new ownership since September 2000, Penticton’s original craft brewery Tin Whistle Brewing has a new mission to be carbon-neutral and waste-free. It is also working on an exciting new technology that involves using green algae to convert some of the CO2 created during the brewing process into oxygen. Customers also get 25 cents off their next four-pack purchase when they bring back the Pak-Teck rings that hold the cans together (the rings themselves are also made from recycled plastic).

This Earth Day, Tin Whistle has announced that not only is it BC’s first carbon-neutral brewery, it is also a zero-waste facility!

Tin Whistle Brewing can be found on the Penticton Ale Trail.

Tailout Brewing — Re-Using and Reducing

Located in Castlegar, Tailout Brewing works hard to reduce its carbon footprint in a variety of ways. The brewery collects all cardboard flats for reuse and recently completed a full canning run (approximately  160 flats) using plastic PakTechs (can rings) that had been returned by customers and local accounts. This initiative not only helped minimize waste but also engaged the community and raised awareness about environmental impact.

Tailout has also established partnerships with other nearby breweries to reduce their carbon footprint during deliveries. Through this collaboration, the breweries meet in the middle to swap beers, optimize their delivery routes, and save on gas while reducing fossil fuel emissions.

Tailout Brewing can be found on the Kootenay Rockies West Ale Trail.

Owner and brewer Mary, her partner Hedin and friends enjoy craft beers at Tailout Brewing in Castlegar, BC
Tailout Brewing in Castlegar

Tofino Brewing – Ocean Friendly

Tofino Brewing is registered through the Surfrider Pacific Rim Chapter, doing its part to keep beaches pristine for fellow community members and generations to come. As a Gold Certified BC Green Business member, Tofino Brewing undergoes annual evaluations to track sustainability progress and make continuous improvements. The brewery uses biodegradable EcoRings for their cans, which are made completely of agricultural fibre waste to avoid plastic ending up in the pristine environment in and around Tofino. They have also developed designated systems and equipment to recapture water used in the brewing process so that it can be reused in subsequent brews.

the front counter and tasting room at Tofino Brewing Company in Tofino, BC
The lounge at Tofino Brewing Company

Whistle Buoy Brewing — Seed to Glass

Victoria’s Whistle Buoy Brewing takes sustainability very seriously. The brewery works with local farmers and producers to source most of the ingredients used in its recipes within a short distance from the brewery, including 95% of the grain they use, which is grown and malted just 20 minutes away at Field 5 Farm. Many of Whistle Buoy’s other beer inputs, including fruit, some hops, and more, are sourced in a regenerative way from independent producers on southern Vancouver Island.

A lot of what they have been up to from a sustainability perspective is captured in their short film called Seed To Glass.

Whistle Buoy Brewing can be found on the Greater Victoria Ale Trail.


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