Brewer's Blog

Responsible Brewing

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hey all,
This past weekend, I spent Sunday and Monday sampling out our beer to the folks who came to Centrex. We had a portion of a booth sponsored by the Manitoba Food Processors Association. It was neat to see all of the different locally produced foods we can get, and surprising to see how many of those we already use.

Nicole and I were having a discussion this morning over bagels and coffee about the brewery, the 100 mile diet, organics and our carbon footprint.

Now, I'll be the first to say, I'm not terribly educated when it comes to some of the issues. I do know we get requests from time to time regarding organic beer. But, the discussion this morning lead me to wonder about the carbon footprint of breweries using organic malt.

See, there's really only two options open to me as a Canadian brewer. Gambrinus Malting Company of Armstrong, BC makes an organic 2 row barley. Some of you have heard me lament of my past dealings with Gambrinus (service is not their strong point, nor is sending the right colour of malt). The guys at Nelson Brewery in BC seem to be happy - they switched a while back to all of their beers being brewed organically - and I think they're getting a good percentage of their grain from Gambrinus.

Our other option would be to use the Biomalt (it's organic) from Weyermann Malting in Bamberg, Germany. Great malt, steep price, European grown.

So, if we were to switch to using these guys for the sake of organics alone, then we'd be cancelling out any good with the diesel fuel it takes to get malt from Germany or BC, rather than simply using the locally made 2 row we currently use.

Here also we're presented with the problem of the local malt being grown across western Canada, then being blended for consistency's sake. So, the 100 mile dieters get thrust out into the cold, too. I have a feeling some people out there think that malting your own grain is pretty simple (technically it can be), but when you're talking about the volumes of grain we go through, hooking up with a local organic farmer to grow grain for us just isn't feasible.

So, where does that leave us?

I figure a few of you out there may have some ideas. The idea here is to open the discussion and maybe find a way to make it work. The hop situation (or lack thereof) isn't going to work itself anytime soon, much less allow me to be picky and demand organics, but I think if we start leaning on our suppliers and come up with some homegrown ideas, we might be able to make it happen.


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