By Annette Shailer, editor Beer & Brewer
Living up to its name, Bright Brewery in Victoria's north east has made its first step towards carbon neutrality by launching freshly-brewed beer poured by the power of the sun.
The brewery also called on the Australian craft brewing industry to put environmental sustainability on the national agenda and to work together on future-proofing such an energy intensive industry.
“We put a brewery here in Bright because we love the rich natural environment that surrounds the town and the awesome outdoor lifestyle that it provides,” explained Bright Brewery founder and owner Scott Brandon.
“The environment is one of the biggest drivers of Bright’s economy, drawing many visitors here across the seasons for the spectacular scenery and alpine adventures, so it is imperative for us to do our part in sustaining it.”
The new 50kw Enphase solar system covering Bright Brewery’s roof in 192 solar panels, is set to save the brewery around $18K a year, providing a payback period of less than five years.
Brandon believes the solar installation is not only a smart business move, but essential for operating an energy intensive craft brewing business.
“We’re a growing business with a growing market, so we wanted to make sure that the solar system is adaptable should we make changes to the building or roof design,” Brandon said.
“Our brewhouse used around six megawatt hours during January, during which time our solar produced over seven megawatt hours of power.”
The next focus for the brewery in bringing its brewing operation closer to carbon neutrality, will be on the energy required to heat its boiler, which is currently powered by natural gas and requires around 12 megawatt hours of power each month.
“Although solar was a relatively simple first step to reducing our carbon footprint, the next thing we have to tackle is gas. It’s a major component of all brewery operations like ours and there’s no simple answer like rooftop solar,” Brandon said.
“And so today we’re calling on Australia’s craft brewing industry to put sustainable operations on the industry’s national agenda.
“We believe that sustainability should be an underpinning value of what defines a craft brewer. For us, craft brewing means really caring about how you make beer, why you’re making beer and the impact that the process and product has on your customers and surrounds. And that includes caring about your impact on the environment and the sustainable nature of your business.
“Many small breweries already have sustainably conscious practices built in to their brewing operations, so this is a fantastic opportunity for us to work together as an industry and really tackle the big needs for innovation to future-proof the whole manufacturing process.”
Bright Brewery took their call to action to the industry’s peak body, the Craft Beer Industry Association (CBIA), in order to set in motion a sustainability initiative, with a desire to define sustainable craft brewing.
The CBIA’s Katherine McLean confirmed that Bright Brewery’s leadership in bringing about an industry-wide conversation has led to a session on environmental sustainability being programmed at the Australian Craft Brewers Conference (ACBC 2016) to be held in Brisbane, 20-21 July.