Goal: Reduce water use per barrel to 3.5:1 by 2015
Water is the main ingredient in beer, and a healthy & reliable watershed is something that we most certainly care about, as both brewery owners and responsible community members.
Water conservation is a metric which continually challenges us: hoppier beers in our portfolio, a larger variety of beers overall, and a demand for more bottles than kegs have all resulted in a decrease in our water efficiency in recent years. We are working hard to reverse that trend, however, and are in the midst of installing water submeters throughout our facility so that we can identify and address anywhere that we are wasting water in our production process.
Hops & Water Usage
Hoppy beers, by nature, can require a bit more water to brew than non-hoppy beers. Put simply, it takes a lot of water & energy to extract all of the good stuff from hops that lend to wonderful aromas & bitterness characteristics. Dry hopping, in particular, has increased water intensity in our brewing process. Dry hopping uses more water because there is more movement of beer and more tank cleaning, both of which require water.
Why do we dry hop? Dry hopping can make a super hoppy beer that is not necessarily super bitter. The hops' resins are isomerized when boiled in our kettle, creating bitterness. (As we all know, oil & water don't mix! Boiling isomerizes the hop oils so that they can mix with water). Hops' essential aromas (myrcene, linalool, geraniol - think citrus, floral, piney, spicy) are heat sensitive and volatize away when the liquid is boiled. Therefore we add more hops after boiling (or "dry hop") in order to achieve desired levels of both bitterness and aroma.
The dry hopping process employs a system of moving the beer around the cellar more than normal as well as a special recirculation tank to efficiently achieve the desired flavor and aromas. This movement means more cleaning of the cellaring equipment is required (and therefore more water usage) than non-dry-hopped beers.
Save the Colorado
The Save the Colorado campaign was initiated by New Belgium and the Clean Water Fund in
2009. Now a coalition of seven sustainably driven companies and
foundations, we donate money, raise awareness and advocate for policy to
promote water conservation and protect the threatened Colorado River, which over
30 million people depend upon for food, water, and energy.