Sustainability Tip 61: Cheers to Sustainable Beer

Beer is one of the world’s most beloved drinks, bringing people together for more than 10,000 years. Unfortunately, it’s also reaping havoc on our environment.


From start to finish, making beer takes a huge toll on our planet. The most common ingredients – wheat, barley, hops, sugar – are some of the most water and energy-intensive crops on the planet. In fact, it takes about 90 litres of water to produce just a half-pint of beer.


Then there’s the energy needed to brew, ferment, and store the beer after it’s produced as well as the glass bottles and aluminium cans that can end up as waste if not properly recycled.


Even worse, many types of alcohol are only made in a few select places and require huge long-distance transportation to even reach the consumers.


Just as beer is worsening climate change, it is also at threat from the effects of it.


Research has shown that beer will become increasingly expensive and could be in short supply within the next few decades.


Increased heatwaves, droughts, and forest fires will threaten barley crops around the world, meaning one of the most common ingredients in beer will become much scarcer.

Currently, only about a sixth of the world’s barley is used for beer. The vast majority is instead fed to livestock. This means that when scarcity hits, animals and food will be prioritised, and the beer industry will be hit hard.


Global water shortages also pose a huge risk, as it makes up 95% of the average beer.


Making the issue worse, some of the world’s key brewing countries are set to be among the worst hit, including Belgium, the Czech Republic, and Ireland.


The researchers even forecasted how much less beer we could be drinking, with consumption expected to fall by a whopping 25% in the UK and the price up to doubling.

“Future climate and pricing conditions could put beer out of reach for hundreds of millions of people around the world,” said Prof Steven Davis at the University of California, Irvine, and one of the research team.

So, does this spell the end for this millennia-old pastime? Not necessarily; things are changing.


Innovations and new technologies are emerging to help the beer industry reduce its footprint. Some larger manufacturers are taking steps to make production more sustainable, but many smaller brewers are leading the way with a variety of interesting takes on how to make brewing sustainable.


One such brand is Toast.

Toast ale believes in a better future for beer and the world. Fully B-corp certified, they use surplus bread to replace barley in their brewing. This means they use less land, water, energy and avoid loads of carbon emissions.


It also means they are tackling two issues at once; making brewing more sustainable and reducing food waste – a huge contributor to the climate crisis.


Toast also gives 100% of their profits to charity, funding systemic change to fix the food system and donating over 40,000 meals so far.


Just as we do at Play it Green, Toast believes that the best way to truly make an impact is to engage others. By brewing quality beers and engaging people in conversation, they nudge positive action for the planet.


You can even download their recipe to make your own bread-brewed beer – great if you have leftover loaves you can’t finish in time. Just join their homebrewers club.


So why not ‘toast’ to living more sustainably this weekend? You can even get 10% off your order when you subscribe to their newsletter. Shop toast here.

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