2020 GOAL: 3.5:1 Water Use Ratio
Water is the main ingredient in beer, and a healthy & reliable watershed is something that we care deeply about, as both brewers 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 kept our water use ratio hovering around 4:1 in recent years. We are working hard to reverse that trend, however, and have identified some key projects to implement in the coming years as we strive toward our 2020 goal! As we begin producing beer at a second location (our new brewery in Asheville) we know that our water use ratio will be trending in the wrong direction in the short term while both breweries work to increase overall production, but we have our eyes on the prize to achieve a 3.5:1 ratio by 2020.
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.
Water & advocacy
Through philanthropy and advocacy, we strive to support the great work that others are doing to protect and restore the waterways we depend upon to brew beer in Colorado and North Carolina. Here's a few of the organizations we engage with.
We come together with our fellow Northern Colorado brewers on a quarterly basis to discuss water efficiency in our industry and to learn from experts about issues facing our watershed.