Drink Gluten Free Beer and Support a Cause

Many causes are created when one person’s life is affected by an issue, illness or condition. They realize that their lives will be different, so they change direction and dedicate their time and effort toward their new reality – for themselves and for others going through the same thing. So it was with Pedro Gonzalez, co-founder and president of New Planet Beer.

In 2003, Gonzalez was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, an inherited digestive disease that damages the small intestine and prevents the absorption of nutrients from food. Because of this, Gonzalez can’t tolerate gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley which are ingredients in many beers. The only treatment for Celiac is a gluten-free diet, so Gonzalez was stuck with either giving up beer altogether, or only drinking gluten-free beer. He chose the latter.

Restricted to few unappealing options, Gonzalez was determined to create his own great-tasting, gluten-free ale. Gonzalez and partner Seneca Murley founded New Planet Beer that same year, but it took Gonzalez five more years of hard work with fellow brew master and friend, Roy Emmons, to create Tread Lightly Ale.

Along with Tread Lightly, New Planet’s second effort, 3R Raspberry Ale, and most recent offering, Off Grid Pale Ale, are all gluten-free. A portion of the profits from all three beers go to different nonprofit organizations and each environmental cause is reflected on their labels. Tread Lightly supports trail restoration, 3R Raspberry—named for reduce, reuse, and recycle—supports environmental organizations in Colorado, and Off Grid, available in the near future, will support organizations that promote alternative energy.

If that wasn’t enough to make you feel good about drinking New Planet brews, they also substantially reduce their environmental impact by purchasing capacity from Fort Collins Brewery instead of building their own brewing facility. Fort Collins does its part by using less energy not refrigerating its beer after packaging, and recycling its wastewater and grains in the farming community. Together they make extremely efficient use of the Fort Collins facilities, and with the lower overhead costs, New Planet is able to donate part of their profits to environmental causes.

Environmentally friendly breweries are cropping up all over the U.S. Colorado is fortunate to have another great option in the New Belgium Brewery, New York has the Brooklyn Brewery, and Cleveland is home to the Great Lakes Brewing Company. There are more out there and, most likely, many more to come.

Although New Planet beer is only sold in Colorado right now, hopefully it will soon be available nationwide. So read your labels carefully. While you are relaxing and enjoying a smooth brew, you can feel better knowing your drink didn’t harm the environment and you can even support a cause.

Andrea Newell has more than ten years of experience designing, developing and writing ERP e-learning materials for large corporations in several industries. She was a consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers and a contract consultant for companies like IBM, BP, Marathon Oil, Pfizer, and Steelcase, among others. She is a writer and former editor at TriplePundit and a social media blog fellow at The Story of Stuff Project. She has contributed to In Good Company (Vault's CSR blog), Evolved Employer, The Glass Hammer, EcoLocalizer and CSRwire. She is a volunteer at the West Michigan Environmental Action Council and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. You can reach her at andrea.g.newell@gmail.com and @anewell3p on Twitter.

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