Upland's Green Brew 

Sustainability, as in "being green, thinking green, doing green," is inherent to brewing beer, which goes back some 12,000 years. Ancients mixed the wild barley they gathered with water and left the brew out for "nature" to produce a frothy head, signifying a palatable beverage to sip with homemade bread and other planted, gathered or hunted in-the-neighborhood foodstuffs.

Industrialization compromised this pure form of sustainability. Now there is an evolution back to the beginning by brewers passionate about both their ancient craft and the sustainability of our planet.

Witness Upland Brewing Company. Since its 1998 opening, Upland, located in Bloomington, has been serious about "Reuse, Recycle, Reduce" and a clutch of other words beginning with the letter R, particularly "Responsible Civic Engagement" and, now, "Rays of the Sun."

Most recently, Upland installed a solar water heating system to generate water heating at the rate of 35,000 BTUs per day per panel, "in efforts to add to sustainable business operations," according to Scott Johnson, Upland's marketing operations manager. A lot more hot water is used in the brewing process to wash and sanitize every piece of equipment than what is used as an actual ingredient along with malted grain, yeast and hops and other flavoring.

Ten Apricus Tube Solar Collectors have been installed on the building at 350 W. 11th St. The solar collectors heat a copper pipe filled with food-grade glycol. The glycol-filled pipe runs to a heat exchanger, which draws off the thermal energy and transfers it to a separate pipe carrying the water to be heated. The heated water is being stored in eight 180-gallon vessels to be used on demand. It is estimated the solar panels on Upland's roof will provide 167,566,755 BTUs of energy each year.

Each panel represents a carbon savings of about two tons per year, which is equivalent to taking one automobile off the road. According to Johnson, the design of the solar collectors is 57 percent more efficient than are flat plate solar collectors, and is most effective in the hot summer months. The system is also easily expandable as the hot water needs for Upland continues to increase as it grows its beer production, which exceeded 5,000 barrels in 2008.

Upland reportedly is one of the largest installations to date for Mann Plumbing Inc. in Bloomington, and is expected to solidify the feasibility of solar energy generation in Indiana.

Johnson acknowledges the $70,000 installation was made possible and supported in part by a Federal Department of Energy grant specifically available for alternative energy installations. "This support from Indiana's Office of Energy & Defense Development for the addition of solar heating places Upland as the first Midwestern brewery to incorporate solar energy into their process," Johnson says. (More information at www.IN.gov.OED.)

By harnessing the power of the sun to brew beer, Johnson says, "Upland expects to eliminate up to 75 percent of natural gas required for heating water, which will contribute considerably to becoming a more sustainable and efficient brewery with an estimated annual savings of over $5,300 in energy costs."

Production savings are passed on to consumers, making Upland's distinctive fleet of handcrafted beers somewhat more costly than one-flavor-fits-all-mega-brewed products, but competitive with most other handcrafted beer.

"We're in the same price range as Samuel Adams, Sierra Nevada and Goose Island, whose reaches are nationwide," stated Danny Henrich, Upland's sales manager. "Last March we took a price increase because of the hops shortage. We have taken no price increase this year."

A no brainer

Mann Plumbing initiated a proposal for Upland in the summer of 2008 through its newly formed Solar Energy Systems Department. Upland head brewer Caleb Staton admits, "It was a no-brainer" to grasp the opportunity. And from Mann Plumbing's point of view, approaching Upland made for a perfect combination.

"As we were figuring out our target market, we asked, 'What business uses a lot of hot water?'" says Amie McCarty, director of sales and marketing, Solar Energy Systems for Mann Plumbing Inc. "We know the Upland Brewing company and Doug Dayhoff, Upland's president, to be savvy about sustainable issues. Actually, Doug had already been thinking about solar heating so he was very receptive and saw it as serendipitous."

Staton articulates the entire staff's sense of pride in Upland's leadership. "We feel confident that the technology will become increasingly adopted as we prove solar water heating is applicable for all breweries big and small."

McCarty says the solar thermal industry is underrepresented because most people think of solar with electricity. "They do not think of water. We think this installation will send out a message that solar works in Indiana. In fact, solar is huge in other locations with a climate similar to Indiana and in places that get even less sun, like Germany and Norway," McCarty states. "We get plenty of sun to grow corn, and plenty to heat water, too."

McCarty says Mann Plumbing also has been in conversation with Jeff Mease, owner of Bloomington Brewing Company. "BBC is definitely receptive to solar power, and may plan down the road for incorporating solar power in to their operation. Jeff and Doug were on our primary list because both are great guys for thinking on the environmental level."

"Being green is not only an Upland value, but one shared by the majority of the Bloomington community," says Dayhoff.

Reducing human impact

In 2007 the City of Bloomington incorporated green building principles into its own facilities by using the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building rating system, developed and awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council.

According to the USGBC Web site, green building is an approach toward building design, construction, operation and removal that seeks to reduce human impact on the environment while fostering healthy and comfortable communities.

There is no single blueprint for green building; rather, it is a set of processes that may be adapted to best suit the needs of the particular project and community. Green building practices revolve around a few basic principles developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (www.usgbc.org), a nonprofit organization made up of leaders from all sectors of the building industry to promote buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy places to live and work.

A spin-off to the solar installation is Upland hosting Bloomington's first Green Drinks meeting Feb. 18, in conjunction with the Bloomington Green Building chapter. "It was a standing-room-only event with 250 people attending," Dayhoff reports.

Bloomington joins Indianapolis, Lafayette and communities in Northwest Indiana as the fourth Indiana location to have monthly Green Drinks meetings. According to the Green Drinks International Web site, www.greendrinks.org, there is no agenda, and Green Drinks itself does not endorse or promote issues or positions. The purpose is to gather people with similar environmental interests in a fun, social atmosphere.

Supporting CILTI

From its very start, Upland continued the larger concept of sustainability and civic responsibility initiated by John Hill when he opened Indiana's first brewpub in 1991. Hill salvaged an old building, which had previously been a car repair shop, and refurbished it as Broad Ripple Brewpub.

Dayhoff traces the provenance of Upland's building from its beginnings 100 years ago as an icehouse, after which it housed an auto repair shop and a number of other enterprises before being home to a printing business as Upland's immediate predecessor. The short path to Dayhoff's office originally led to the loading dock for the horse's wagon that delivered ice. Every day he is reminded of Upland's historic ties to the community.

With other business people, Dayhoff has been involved in revitalizing the neighborhood surrounding Upland for mixed use, including affordable housing and small businesses. "We really are just at the cusp of it. But, while we saved a building and rejuvenated the immediate neighborhood, our biggest impact is beyond that. Sustainability for us involves supporting the community that sustains us, and that includes buying locally produced food, reducing waste and recycling beer by-products."

Upland's menu lists collaborations with the Local Growers Guild, Buffalo Nickel Ranch, Fisher Farms, Blue Boy Chocolates and DAGS, which uses Upland's Porter and Wheat beers for making two particular flavors of homemade ice cream. Berries for Upland's Lambics are locally grown.

"On a further sustainable note," Caleb Staton adds, "10 percent of our Preservation Pilsner revenues are provided to local land trusts to preserve Indiana forests and natural features."

"We're able to do that by producing Preservation Pilsner on draught only," Danny Henrich explains. "We keep this beer's costs down by not bottling, packaging and marketing to sell in stores."

Proceeds from Preservation Pilsner sales in Indianapolis go to the Central Indiana Land Trust (www.conservingindiana.org).

Scott Johnson says, "In 2008 Upland Brewing donated more than $40,000 worth of beer, employee time, food and cash" to other Indiana-based nonprofits, including the Exotic Feline Rescue Center and Sycamore Land Trust. "We send over 400,000 pounds of spent grain to a local buffalo herd whose meat in turn makes it onto our menu."

Upland's active engagement with customers is consistent with that of all of the members of the Brewers of Indiana Guild who promote "drink responsibly, drive responsively, live responsibly," Dayhoff states.

A survey of the members of the Brewers of Indiana Guild shows all are actively involved in philanthropy, they share their spent grain with local farmers and they buy local, seasonal products for their restaurants.

Bloomington Brewing Company especially has been cited as a brewpub growing its own ingredients for its restaurant and brewing operations.

While brewers have been investigating the feasibility of growing hops in Indiana, the challenges of processing remain. Sam Spurlock, who reclaimed a pre-Civil War structure for Shoreline Brewing Company, is actively seeking a feasible solution.

Canning vs. bottling

Another conundrum is canning vs. bottling. In a nation where reusing bottles is not typical, cans are the greener option. Yet, craft beer drinkers in large part think a canned beer is of lesser quality. Dave Holmes at Warbird Brewing Company found himself ahead of the curve and had to abandon canning to maintain sales. Roger Baylor at New Albanian Brewing Company is anticipating a consumer attitude change and will can at NABC's new Bank Street Brewpub.

For the moment, the most dramatic sustainable impact of brewpubs and breweries is their consistent reclamation of buildings and revitalization of neighborhoods.

Greg Emig comments about turning a century-old building associated with furniture making and sales into Lafayette Brewing Company: "At the time we moved here, downtown Lafayette was pretty rough. We recently looked at pictures of Main Street when we opened in 1993 and we said, 'Wow, we did what?'" But it's come miles since then. In a continuing effort to keep downtown growing, Lafayette Brewing Company opened its second floor community room as an active supporter of "Friends of Bob," a not-for-profit organization of volunteers bringing alternatives in live music to the Greater Lafayette area since its formation in 1994.

"Barley Island's opening spruced up that block of Noblesville," notes Bob Ostrander, the keeper of www.Indianabeer.com. "Columbus Bar/Powerhouse Brewing Company is certainly a great use of an old downtown bar. Crown's new place [Crown Point Brewing Company] is a centerpiece for a small downtown mall area."

In Ft. Wayne, the original Mad Anthony Brewpub is in the Munchie Emporium Restaurant, originally Meyer Drug Store's ice cream manufactory, but the building itself was that city's first Kroger store.

"The new Elkhart Mad Anthony was written up in the Elkhart Truth about 'saving downtown.' It's in an old theater," Ostrander adds. " Mad Anthony's Auburn and Warsaw pubs also are re-uses of old downtown structures."

And now we learn that, in Indianapolis, Clay Robinson, former assistant brewer at The Ram, is reclaiming an industrial structure to open Sun King Brewing Company as a neighbor to Easley Winery with the intentions of working together to make the 200 block of North College Avenue a destination location.

Meanwhile, the Brugge Brasserie-Production Facility is restoring Terre Haute's historic worldwide brewing reputation.

"We do what we do on the sustainable front for our own sake," says Doug Dayhoff, summarizing Upland's business plan, but equally reflecting the philosophy of Indiana's craft brewers. "Maybe it's an example for other companies on how they can operate, but we don't want to preach about it. And we certainly don't want to encourage politicians to legislate that other companies operate as we do. That might shock a few people and disappoint Al Gore, but we're proud of what we're doing in large part because no one forced us to do it - these are the choices we've made after considering our options for operating profitably.

"There's an irony to sustainability: The cliché notion is about saving energy, and that's true in the sense of conserving natural resources, but the real story is expanding the use of human mental energy to consider how you live, what you buy, what values are most important - then acting on those ideas. Someone who buys macrobrewed and macromarketed beer from Wal-Mart is not a bad person, but for myself I'd rather drink local, handcrafted beer sold by a local entrepreneur - it tastes better, for a host of reasons."


Other sustainable steps taken by Upland

2007: Installed a hot water recovery system to capture heated water that results from cooling wort in the brewing process. Nine million BTUs of energy are captured per year with this method. Upland also used 30 percent less water volume per volume of beer produced in 2008 by implementing this activity, saving 150,000 gallons of water per year.

2008: Began screening wastewater stream to lower overall biological on demand and total suspended solid content. The solid material screened is food grade and mixed in with spent grains, which already help feed buffalo at the Buffalo Nickel Ranch of Ellettsville. Upland plans to continue to invest in additional methods and infrastructure to lower the treatment load sent to the City of Bloomington Utilities. Waste beer is picked up by a local distiller to convert to ethanol for energy purposes. Previously, this quantity of beer, roughly 2,500 gallons per year, joined our wastewater stream.

2009: Upgraded facilities lighting to more energy efficient fluorescents vs. traditional halides.

The restaurant also continues to use locally sourced meats, including Fischer Farms, Schacht Farms and the Buffalo Nickel Ranch. All cardboard, glass waste and fryer oil are promptly recycled by the brewery and the Tap Room.


Grow your own

Sam Strupeck, Shoreline Brewery & Restaurant: "Growing hops where you brew is about sustainability, using less energy to get the product to the brewery. We use as many local products and people as we can. When it came to restoring the building everyone was local. We have a local farmer who takes our spent grains. They feed chickens with it and they use if for compost. They have real sandy soil so they are working it into their soil for his wife's garden that has really unique vegetables - heirloom tomatoes, purple tomatoes, purple carrots, root vegetables. We use as many of their vegetables as we can."


Tax breaks

The State of Indiana offers residents and commercial users full property tax exemption for energy systems using solar water heat, solar space heat, wind, hydroelectric or geothermal power. The exemption applies to the entire renewable energy system and all associated equipment, for every year the system is in operation, which is on average 30 years or more. See www.dsireusa.org/library/includes/incentive2.cfm?Incentive_Code=IN01F&state=IN&CurrentPageID=1&RE=1&EE=1 for more information. Utility incentives are offered through local utility providers.


Other initiatives

New Belgium Brewery in Ft. Collins, Colo., is among a clutch of craft breweries nationwide with business models that promote green policies and preserve the environment. The third largest craft brewer in the U.S., according to a news release, New Belgium, which 10 years ago became one of the world's first wind-powered breweries, supplies 70 percent of its energy needs. Other sustainable practices include optimized control systems for all operations, and wastewater treatment and methane gas co-generation to supply the other 30 percent of its energy needs. Thus no fossil fuels are used in brewing. As members of the international organization "1 Percent for the Planet," New Belgium contributes 1 percent of its annual revenue to environmental causes. And as an incentive toward green-powered transportation, each New Belgium employee is given a free custom cruiser bicycle after a year of employment. Log on to www.newbelgium.com/sustainability.

In New York, Brooklyn Brewery uses wind power for 100 percent of its energy needs through an agreement with Con Edison, which operates a wind farm in upstate New York. BB estimates its "commitment to green power stops 335,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, 1,500 pounds of sulfur dioxide and 500 pounds of nitrogen oxide from being emitted into the atmosphere annually, equivalent to driving a car 290,000 miles." Log on to www.brooklynbrewery.com.

Portland, Ore.-based Full Sail Brewing Company recently received the Governor's Sustainability Award for small business. The citation noted Full Sail's "outstanding sustainability practices in social equity, energy and water efficiency, renewable energy, use of recycled materials, procurement of local ingredients, community involvement and waste management." Forbes.com and Business Facilities Magazine each rated Oregon the "greenest state in the nation." Log on to www.fullsailbrewing.com.

In 2002, Oskar Blues Brewery in Lyons, Colo., bucked the trend in the craft brewing industry and became the first U.S. microbrewery to can its beer. This leadership has moved consumers to reconsider their ideas about cans and craft brews, thus opening the way for a national change to a more sustainable container. Log on to www.oskarblues.com.

The industry leader in "green" has been Sierra Nevada Brewery in Chico, Calif., which since 1980 has utilized alternative energy sources, used green suppliers for all its needs, grown its own hops, reused and recycled by- products and thus has reduced waste. Log on to www.sierranevada.com.

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About The Author

Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn has been covering craft beer and the arts for NUVO for two decades. She’s the author of True Brew: A Guide to Craft Beer in Indiana.

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