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Sustainable Brewery Workshop in Bend: A Recap

September 22, 2016

On Thursday, September 8, our Sustainable Craft Brewery Workshop in Bend, Oregon, provided lauter tuns of info about how breweries can successfully manage wastewater, energy, and water use. The event, jointly organized by the City of Bend, was held at Worthy Brewing’s beautiful Brewhouse and Pub, a model of environmentally conscious and forward thinking operations. Here are a few highlights:

  • Worthy Brewing’s “Chief Brewing Executive,” Chris Hodge, kicked off the event with some inspiring words about how a culture of sustainability infuses Worthy Brewing. Hodge also praised the model collaboration taking place between breweries and the City of Bend. City of Bend employees, Hodge acknowledged, work behind the scenes to make good water quality possible, something for Bend and its burgeoning breweries to be proud of. “Great beer requires great water quality,” Hodge said.


  • The City of Bend’s Christina Davenport, who helped organize the event and the next day’s “Source to Brewer to Sewer Tour,” contextualized the main issues of water quality at play with brewery wastewater and waste. Namely, Davenport described how “high strength” wastewater – defined by the City of Bend as over 2,000 mg per liter for businesses – can pose a problem for publically owned treatment works. The waste can be extremely variable in its pH, corroding pipes and water collection systems. As more Bend breweries produce higher volumes of beer and waste, they increasingly need to think about what they’re doing with high strength waste. They need to do this as good environmental actors, but also as good business actors. As part of the city’s new Extra Strength Program, the price that breweries pay for discharging high strength wastewater is set to significantly increase over the next few years. By getting out ahead of the problem, by using pre-treatment when feasible and by using the city as a knowledgeable resource for effectively managing water and waste, breweries can set themselves up for continued success in the exploding field of craft brewing. [Check out Christina’s presentation].


  • Emily Edens, Environmental Health and Safety Manager for 10 Barrel Brewing, picked up where Davenport left off. Edens showed how the city’s rate change for handling high strength waste will significantly impact 10 Barrel’s waste costs. She emphasized the importance of standardizing operating procedures to reduce chemical and water uses, especially for a brewery like 10 Barrel that is currently undergoing a massive expansion in brewing capacity. Edens also suggested that multiple public-private benefits could be derived from municipal-private partnerships such as installing a municipally-owned anaerobic digester that could convert waste from the dozens of Bend breweries into energy. [Check out Emily’s presentation].


  • Christian Bernard, of the Energy Trust of Oregon, described the number of ways that Energy Trust can help breweries improve energy management and generate significant savings in doing so. Energy Trust provides businesses with project scoping, technical assistance, cash incentives, and funding for capital upgrades as well as operations improvements. “We want to help facilities move toward the most efficient technologies and processes possible,” Bernard said, detailing some of the many equipment and operational improvements that Energy Trust can help broker. He then detailed a few of the highly successful projects Energy Trust has been involved in with some of the largest and most respected Northwest breweries, such as Widmer Brothers, Ninkasi, Deschutes, and Worthy Brewing. [Check out Christian’s presentation].


  • PPRC’s Ken Grimm described a number of innovative pollution prevention solutions being implemented by breweries throughout the Northwest. Grimm emphasized how breweries can generate instant savings via two quick and easy technical assistance services: by fixing air leaks and by fixing significant leaks of heat or coldness (ie. by insulating steam lines and cold storage). Grimm also described the innovative and multifarious uses of Nitrogen generators, as opposed to conventional CO2, to purge kegs, reduce fobbing, and purge equipment. Grimm highlighted a few resources that can be extremely useful to breweries of any size, namely: the P2 Checklist for Craft Brewers (by Craft Brew Alliance), PPRC’s P2 Facility Checklist for identifying environmental improvement opportunities, PPRC’s Craft Brew Listserv for a networked forum of solutions, and PPRC’s brand new Topic Hub for Craft Brewing, which details how breweries can act to reduce their environmental footprint. [Check out Ken’s presentation].



  • The day ended with a tour of Worthy Brewing’s impressive facility led by Worthy’s Communications Manager, Lindsay Allen. A few choice highlights: The brewery and pub currently boast the largest array of solar panels in central Oregon, and its solar hot water system frees the brewery from needing to heat water. On the waste innovation side, Worthy ships all of its spent grain 12 miles down the road to Green Brothers Farm, where it’s used to feed livestock that the brewery buys back in beef form. Finally, Worthy offers a strong argument for the production of primarily canned beer. The argument goes like this: Cans are less expensive than bottles materials wise; cans save space and weight, and therefore cost, in freight; cans are better for good beer because they let in less light and oxygen than bottles do; and finally, cans have a recycling edge over bottles in that recycling aluminum is less energy intensive and cheaper than recycling bottles. Sold.


  • Oh, did we mention that Worthy is currently installing an observatory on the second floor of its brewery, an idea, like so many at Worthy, promoted by co-founder and owner Roger Worthington. Soon visitors will be able to gaze into the infinite galaxy above while sipping on a cold beer. “The idea is that by looking up you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for what we have here on earth, and we’ll be better stewards of it when we look back down,” Hodge said.


-Cyrus Philbrick, Communications Manager

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