Gallery: America’s Favorite Sustainable Craft Breweries of 2012

The Brewers Association just released its annual list of Top 50 U.S. Craft Brewing Companies of 2012 based on sales volume. A craft brewery is defined as a small, independent brewery that produces less than 6 million US beer barrels. From this list, we culled through the breweries to find which ones had the strongest sustainability programs in place. We understand that this could be a contentious list, and that there are many breweries that didn't make the cut that do incorporate eco-friendly practices into their business operations. Your favorite brewery is much like your favorite sports team and loyalties run high, so if you disagree with our selections, by all means, please let us know in the comments!

This list of 6 favorite sustainable craft breweries was selected based first on the Brewers Association list of top selling breweries, which is determined by sales volume. Then we went to each brewery’s website to learn more about their sustainability program. Since there are no eco-certifications for breweries, it’s hard to compare apples to apples, but we think these six are doing a pretty good job. These companies are committed to energy efficiency, water use reduction and overall attention to their impact on the planet. But we were surprised to learn that most of these companies don’t even offer a truly organic beer. We think this should change.

Sierra Nevada, Chico, CA

We were plumb blown away by Sierra nevada’s impressive sustainability program. With a 2 MW photovoltaic system and a 1 MW fuel cell on site, the brewery creates 60% of its own electricity. Add to that with a slew of energy efficient strategies, greenhouse gas emissions reductions programs, an on-site wastewater treatment facility, and a 97% diversion program and composting system that keeps waste out of the landfill. Find out more about Sierra Nevada’s programs here.

New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, CO

New Belgium has long been regarded as the darling of the sustainable breweries, landing the No. 3 spot on the 2012 Brewers Association list. The brewery has a 200 kW photovoltaic system that provides 3 percent of its power and the brewery gets the rest of its energy from wind farms. New Belgium divert 94 percent of its waste from the landfill and has a number of impressive programs in place to reduce water usage, greenhouse gas emissions and energy. The brewery also have a Sustainable Purchasing Guidelines in place and you can find out on their site where all their ingredients come from. Learn more about New Belgium’s sustainability programs here.


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