A Sustainability Story: Full Sail Brewing Co.

The following interview is part of our annual “green beer” series for 2012. To read more interviews and articles visit the main page here.

TriplePundit: What’s your name and the name of your brewery?

James Emmerson, Executive Brewmaster

Full Sail Brewing Co.

3p: How long have you been in the business?

JE: 25 years

3p:Where are you located?

JE: Hood River, Oregon

3p:What volume of beer do you produce and where do you distribute?

JE: We’ll produce about 150,000 barrels this year. We ship to the 14 western states and a handful in the Southeast and Northeast.

3p:What are your plans for growth, if any?

JE: 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.

3p:What makes your brewery sustainable?

JE: 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.” We included features that would help our brewery last for the long term, like a full wastewater 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 percent 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 ~2.5 gallons of water are used to make 1 gallon of beer. A typical brewery uses up to 10 to 1.

3p:What’s your biggest sustainability challenge?

JE: As a brewer, water and wastewater 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.

3p:Any new sustainability projects in the pipeline that have you excited?

JE: We have 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. These savings also extend to the number of truckloads (~80) of material that won’t be coming and going from the brewery on a yearly basis. This water savings has generated additional reductions in heating/cooling/electricity usage.

3p:Forget finances – what’s your brewery pipe dream?

JE: 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!

3p:What is the one thing you want Triple Pundit readers to know about your brewery?

JE: 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.

3p:What’s your favorite brew?

JE: The one in my hand! (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.”)

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