UK’s First Carbon-Neutral Beer?

Adnams Managing Director Andy Wood with bottle of East GreenAdnams claims to have produced the U.K.’s first carbon-neutral beer. The beer is a light ale called East Green, named after the village common in front of the brewery.

The summer issue of American Brewer contains a story I wrote about New Belgium’s recent carbon-lifecycle assessment of their flagship Fat Tire amber ale. The same conclusions reached in that report are reflected in the efforts taken by Adnams to curb their carbon emissions.

Adnams Eco Distro CenterThe first area of interest to brewers is addressing their own operations. Adnams took a major step in this direction with the new “eco-built” distribution center they opened in late 2006. The facility sports what was at the time the UK’s largest “living roof.”

Quoted in The Publican, the company’s managing director Andy Wood claimed, “If this beer sold in comparative volumes to Broadside (the company’s leading brand, ed.) it would be the equivalent of taking sixty-five cars off the road a year.”

But even with a “green” distribution center and a highly efficient brewery, there are carbon emissions generated throughout the lifecycle of the product. Chief among the upstream impacts are barley malt and glass bottles. Adnams sourced exclusively locally-grown and malted barley for this beer, which limited emissions to a degree. They also utilized aphid-resistant Boadicea hops which limit the need for petroleum-based pesticides, striking another blow against the infernal carbon fiend. And they developed a lighter-weight beer bottle (click here to download a pdf about their lightweight bottle).

Through these and other measures, Adnams was able to reduce the carbon footprint of East Green from a maximum of 159 grams of carbon equivalent (gCe) per bottle to 118 gCe. The remaining emissions were offset with assistance from Climate Care and the Carbon Trust. Here’s a look at breakdowns of the emissions before and after the carbon reduction strategies were implemented.

East green emissions before reductions.Figure 1. Emissions from Adnams’ East Green ale before reductions strategies were implemented.

East Green emissions after reductions.Figure 2. Emissions from East Green after reductions strategies were implemented.

Read more about Adnams East Green on their website here.

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