Monday, May 9, 2011

Responsible Drinking- How About The Drinks Themselves?


In this space for men's issues, drinking is and will be a common subject matter. The matter of being a responsible drinker should be obvious so I will rarely cover it solely, but I do mention it often within other posts. Today I am moving beyond the drinker to the drink itself. More and more we are seeing breweries, wineries, and distilleries being responsible in the creation of their drinks. Just as with food, a movement towards local sourcing, green production and post-production techniques, and responsible consumption is increasing in the providers.

As I mentioned in my article on Wisconsin Distilleries, two distilleries are being green by reusing bottles and using only local, organic ingredients when possible. There are many craft or micro- breweries that try to use as many organic products as possible and the wine industry is likely farther ahead their counterparts in beers and spirits. The number of organic and green wines at wine.com is pretty amazing. Frey wines are an example of an all-organic winery versus most which do a few organic wines along with regular wines.


All beers and spirits use some type of grain. The spent grains from producing alcohol typically go into a landfill and just add to all of our regular garbage. To solve this problem, Milwaukee micro-brewers Lakefront Brewery give their spent grains from the brewing process to local urban farm and groundbreaking organization Growing Power to use in their composting. In fact, Lakefron is listed in an article that lists the 8 'greenest' breweries of which New Belgium (makers of Fat Tire) and Sierra nevada are two of the other best and most well-known. Today I just read an article on Scottish distilleries that are doing something similar to Lakefront - using their spent grains. In this case they are providing their grains to a biomass plant to create energy.

Besides their ingredients and what they do with them afterwards, producers of alcohol have other ways to be responsible. They can use alternate energy sources such as solar and wind. They can even go beyond and setup programs to make sure the environment is safe. They so after all need the environment for their products. For example, the main product in all beverages is water. Water has a huge impact on the quality of the beverage, so it is in their interests to make sure the water we all use is good and safe.

To this end, MillerCoors - as part of their Great Beer, Great Responsibility program, has water stewardship efforts that include giving funds to programs that seek to keep our water clean. They also invest in communities and are an advocate of responsible drinking.

It is great to see so many efforts being done by producers of alcohol to be responsible in various ways from environmental to social. Now, we all know that money talks. So next time you are purchasing alcohol consider supporting a producer that uses and promotes responsible practices.