Where There’s Beer, There’s Hope

How Breweries in New England are Leading the Charge on Sustainability

Colin Davis, Co-Founder, Shacksbury Cider,

Colin Davis, Co-Founder, Shacksbury Cider, harvesting wild apples. (Photo by Michael Tallman)

Someone purportedly once said, “where there’s beer, there’s hope,” and that rings true for breweries in New England that are creating a lot of hope around the future of sustainability.

Breweries are thinking more and more about what they can do to make a change to be sustainable, reduce their CO2 emissions, and dispose of their spent waste in a way that is good for the environment and keeps that waste out of our landfills and waterways.

Last spring, researchers at Virginia Polytechnic and State University (Virginia Tech) submitted a research paper to the American Chemical Society that shed light on the growing need for beer companies to explore sustainability options. They shared their findings on separating beer waste into proteins for foods and fiber for biofuels.

The paper noted that due to the high demand for craft brewing in the U.S. market, there had been a significant increase in waste byproducts from breweries. They further shared that this waste comprises 85% spent grains, up to 30% protein, and up to 70% fiber.

New England is no stranger to the craft beer industry, with small and large breweries opening up across the region. The Brewers Association For Small and Independent Craft Brewers noted that in 2020 there were nearly 700 craft breweries in operation in the New England region alone, and there are more still opening every year. That’s a lot of waste being created.

Tree House Brewing Company

Brew Room at Tree House Brewing Company

Vanguard Renewables works with brewers such as Shacksbury Cider, Berkshire Brewing Company, and Tree House Brewing Company to take their organic waste. By collecting the breweries’ spent grains and other byproducts, we are collaborating with our partners to keep their waste from being disposed of in landfills or being dumped down the drain. Instead of discarding their waste, these breweries are not just cutting their CO2 emissions but also helping keep the region’s family farmers in business.

We have been working with small and large breweries across the region to help Vanguard’s Farm Powered mission of turning food waste and dairy cow manure into renewable energy. We provide a circular solution for these breweries – from farm to kettle to keg and back to one of New England’s family farms to help create pipeline-quality renewable natural gas that powers our farms, colleges, businesses, and towns across the region.

Nate Lanier, the Co-founder and Head Brewer of Tree House Brewing Company, said: “Working with Vanguard has enabled us to abide by our ethos of environmental responsibility while benefiting local farmers – it was a no-brainer for us to work with them. They are passionate about what they do, and it shows.”

The waste from Vanguard’s partner breweries is collected and brought to one of their six anaerobic digestion facilities in Massachusetts and Vermont, where it’s then added to a state-of-the-art hydrolyzer before entering the anaerobic digestion process to create renewable energy. The byproducts of the anaerobic digestion process make high-quality bedding for their family farmer’s herd and a low-carbon, nearly odorless liquid fertilizer to use on their fields.

As one of the nation’s leading renewable energy companies, Vanguard Renewables is excited to see the commitment that so many companies across New England have taken to fight the good fight to become better stewards of our natural resources and the work they are doing to reach their own ambitious sustainability goals.

Beer with Farm Powered branding

Berkshire Brewing Cans with the Farm Powered Logo

Vanguard Renewables’ brewery partners are not just doing good for the environment, but they are helping the region’s family farmers save money on fertilizers, energy, and bedding. It’s a win for all.

Many other breweries across New England are committing to be more sustainable. Some have become Certified Benefit Corporations (B Corps), committing to greater social and environmental practices and doing good for the environment and society. Some breweries making this commitment include The Alchemist in Vermont, Allagash Brewing Company in Maine, and Redemption Rock Brewing Company in Massachusetts.

For all the brewers doing good and making sustainability a priority, this one is for you.