The Green Brewhaha: Sustainability at Full Sail Brewing Co.

What’s your name and the name of your brewery?
James Emmerson, Executive Brewmaster

How long have you been in the business?
23 years

Where are you located?
Hood River, Oregon

What volume of beer do you produce and where do you distribute?
We’ll produce about 150,000 barrels this year. We ship to the 14 western states and a handful in the Southeast and Northeast.

What makes your brewery sustainable?
I really prefer the term “responsible” as opposed to “sustainable.” My grandmother said that being responsible was doing the right thing even when no one was looking. When we laid out the new brewery in 1994, we recycled an old building in Hood River as opposed to making a “greenfield brewery.” [ed note: A greenfield brewery is built on previously unused open space]

We included features that would help our brewery last for the long term, like a full waste water treatment plant, efficient lighting, a high-efficiency boiler and a high efficiency glycol chiller. All the byproduct of our beer production is used as animal feed locally. We use 100% recycled materials for all our packaging, and as an employee owned company, everyone participates in recycling paper waste, food and oil waste from the pub, etc. Our brewery also has one of the lowest ratios of water to beer production ~3.25 gallons of water are used to make 1 gallon of beer. A typical brewery uses up to 10 to 1.

What’s your biggest sustainability challenge?
As a brewer, water and waste water are our biggest issues. That is why we are so committed to reducing our usage as much as we can. Water use also impacts waste treatment, energy use, truck hauls, etc.

Any new sustainability projects in the pipeline that have you excited?
We have just installed a new piece of brewing equipment called a Mash Filter, and it will save us nearly a million gallons of water yearly enabling us to lower our water to beer ratio. This savings also extends to the number of truckloads (~70) of material that won’t be coming and going from the brewery on a yearly basis. And I haven’t even got my arms around the savings in heating/cooling/electricity usage yet, but all will be reduced.

What are your plans for growth, if any?
We believe it is important to grow our business in a organic and sustainable way. We only look at opportunities that will allow us to build our business year after year. Because we are a small, independent brewery in a very competitive environment, we need to be sure that our business decisions are responsible and careful of our limited resources.

Forget finances- what’s your brewery pipe dream?
Our pipe dream is to have a brewery that is independent, employee owned and making world class beer in a beautiful place….. Seems like we already are living the dream!

What is the one thing you want Triple Pundit readers to know about your brewery?

Because we are employee owned, everyone involved in the brewery has the passion and commitment of ownership. That reflects in everything we do and you can taste it in the quality of our beers

What’s your favorite brew?
That’s not a fair question…..they’re all my babies!

I think the depth of our portfolio lets me have the choice to always pick the perfect beer that will be just right for the moment or the food or the mood or the group. (BTW, the brewer’s motto – “Mine’s the full one.”)

Jen Boynton

Jen Boynton is editor in chief of TriplePundit and editorial director at 3BL Media. With over 6 million annual readers, TriplePundit is the leading publication on sustainable business and the Triple Bottom Line. Prior to TriplePundit, Jen received an MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio Graduate School. In her work with TriplePundit she's helped clients from SAP to PwC to Fair Trade USA with their sustainability communications messaging. When she's not at work, she volunteers as a CASA -- court appointed special advocate for children in the foster care system. She enjoys losing fights with toddlers and eating toast scraps. She lives with her family in sunny San Diego.

One response

Leave a Reply