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The Next Economy
Consumers, Brewers Taking a Closer Look at Beer’s Environmental Impact

As Deschutes and Patagonia Provisions partner on beers made from regenerative grain, nearly 50% of beer lovers around the world say they will pay more for a sustainable brew.

Study: Nearly 50% of beer drinkers will pay more for a sustainable brew

Image credit: Cottonbro Studio

Maintaining their signature flavor and quality is a top priority for brewers. However, as a resource-intensive process, brewers are challenged with improving its impact on the environment — and consumers are demanding brewers prioritize sustainability more than ever.

So finds a comprehensive global survey of 3,500 beer drinkers across seven countries, conducted by Pall Corporation — a a global supplier of filtration, separations and purification solutions — to understand their current perceptions and opinions of sustainability in brewing.

Almost half of respondents across the target markets of Austria, Belgium, Germany, Japan, Singapore, the UK and US said they would pay up to 30 percent more for a more sustainably produced beer that reduces waste and water and energy consumption over a less expensive option from a company that doesn’t prioritize sustainability or optimize resource use.

The beer lovers surveyed are also more aware of, and concerned about, the environmental impact of their pint than ever before — with almost two-thirds (61 percent) admitting that the sustainability of their beer now directly affected their choices in pubs, bars and supermarkets. 80 percent believe that reducing waste is relevant to sustainable beer production, 76 percent cite a reduction in energy and 63 percent also note the importance of reducing water use.

“Consumers are considering the environmental impact when deciding which beer to purchase,” said Pall Corporation beer market manager Roland Pahl-Dobrick. “Consumers have an interest in the brewing process and understand that reducing waste, water and energy are vital for more sustainable brewing.”

The data reflect respondents’ understanding of the relationship between beer production processes and quality — nearly 60 percent thought that filtration would play an important part in a beer’s environmental impact and 75 percent said that they were interested in learning more about the brewing process.

“Filtration plays a critical role in the brewing process,” Pahl-Dobrick explained. “Traditionally, beer has been clarified and purified via a fossilized algae called diatomaceous earth; but this creates approximately 3kg of waste sludge for every 1kg used. This can amount to hundreds of tons of waste in large breweries and often ends up in landfill sites. It also typically uses a lot of water, [but] there are more sustainable options” — pointing to modern methods including “crossflow membrane filters which use less water and energy, generate far less waste and are more cost-effective to run.”

Deschutes, Patagonia brew two new organic beers with regenerative grain

Image credit: Patagonia Provisions

Meanwhile, a new collaboration between Oregon-based Deschutes Brewery and Patagonia Provisions is set to further increase the variety of not only sustainable — but regenerative — brews for conscientious beer drinkers.

In an effort to scale organic and Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC) ingredients, Patagonia’s sustainable food and beverage business has been partnering with renowned US breweries including Allagash Brewing Company, Dogfish Head, Lawson’s Finest Liquids, Odell Brewing and Rhinegeist Brewery to develop beers using a regenerative grain called Kernza.

Deep-rooted, perennial crops such as Kernza are an optimal component of the growing regenerative-agriculture movement — they require minimal tilling, increase soil organic matter, improve soil health and water-holding capacity; and help increase ecosystem nutrient retention and carbon sequestration, which helps fight climate change.

Most beer is made from barley and hops sourced from conventional, industrial farms — which use synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, as well as monocultural practices that deplete soil health. And according to the USDA, less than 50 of the over 9,700 breweries in the US produce organic beer.

Now, award-winning craft brewer Deschutes — which was one of the first breweries to produce a certified organic beer, in 2007 — joins Patagonia Provisions’ crew of forward-thinking brewers to help increase sustainability in the industry and to scale ROC and organic ingredients in beer.

“As brewers, we turn barley, Kernza and hops into tasty drinks that bring people together,” said Deschutes CEO Peter Skrbek. “By working with farmers to eliminate chemicals, conserve water and improve soil health, we can make a big impact. We’re excited to partner with Patagonia Provisions, who share our vision for better farming and great beer for every lifestyle. Together, we aim to revolutionize the beer supply chain and promote regenerative organic farming.”

The results of the partnership are a new Kernza Lager and Non-Alcoholic Kernza Golden Brew (Deschutes is the first craft brewery to use Kernza in a non-alcoholic beer). The ultimate goal is to expand the amount of acreage dedicated to growing organic and ROC crops, which would lower ingredient costs.

“We’re thrilled to team up with Deschutes Brewery to bring two organic beers — a Kernza Lager and a Kernza non-alcoholic brew — to a national audience,” said Paul Lightfoot, General Manager of Patagonia Provisions. “This isn’t just about great-tasting brews — though they are pretty fantastic; it’s about championing organic and Regenerative Organic Certified ingredients and shifting the brewing industry to more responsible practices.”

Patagonia Provisions x Deschutes Brewery Kernza Lager and Non-Alcoholic Kernza Golden Brew will be sold in 6-packs of 12oz cans and available at all major retailers nationwide — including Kroger, Total Wine & More and Whole Foods Market — by September 1, 2024.