Great Lakes Brewing Company is serving up great beer, sustainably

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Great Lakes Brewing Company


Food Waste Upcycing




Waste conversion to farm use and making a historic building energy efficient


Great Lakes Brewing Company (GLBC) has taken many measures to produce high-quality, award winning beers at low costs to the environment. Two brothers, Daniel and Patrick Conway, started the Cleveland, Ohio-based business in the 1988. As the first microbrewery in the state, GLBC signaled a new era of beer brewing in Ohio. Microbreweries are small breweries that make unique artisanal beers in limited amounts.

GLBC takes many steps to ensure that its operations produce as little waste as possible. In 2008, it started Pint Size Farm in partnership with Hale Farms & Village, a history museum used to simulate a 19th century agrarian village. The farm has become so successful that during the spring and summer seasons, the vegetables grown on Pint Size Farm contribute over 50 percent of those served at the GLBC brewpub. One method of waste reduction used by the brewery is the upcycling of spent grains into compost, which helps fertilizes its half-acre farm. Used grains are also repurposed into a sterile substrate used to grow edible mushrooms.

In addition to its agricultural-based waste reduction methods, GLBC has integrated renewable energy sources in its brewery and brewpub. These two, century-old buildings have been retrofitted with a 12-panel solar thermal system, radiant heat floors, and the city’s first straw bale wall. Each addition helps optimize the way in which these buildings use and disperse energy. During basketball and baseball seasons, GLBC offers $1.00 shuttles in their Fatty Wagon, a multi-passenger van that runs on used vegetable oil produced in their brewpub.

In 2009 GLBC began authoring sustainability reports to ensure that the business lived up to its motto of “Take, Make, Remake”. Check out GLBC’s website to learn more about its many green initiatives.

Willie Wright is a first year PhD student in the Department of Geography at the University of North Carolina. Prior to his admittance he worked as a Research Assistant on the Research on Food and Farming for All (ROFFA) project, a National Science Foundation sponsored initiative, which assessed the...
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