Strategic Management of Water Resources Important to Ontario Craft Breweries

Strategic Management of Water Resources Important to Ontario Craft Breweries

The vast majority of craft breweries in Ontario understand the need to improve their water and resource management performance to save money, protect the environment and enhance community relations.

This was a major finding of a survey of Ontario craft breweries conducted in the fall of 2016 that found 97 per cent of respondents agree that better water management is important or very important to their all-natural beer business.

Garnet Pratt Siddall, President and CEO of Side Launch Brewing Company and Chair of Ontario Craft Brewers, said the survey confirms that the craft beer industry takes environmental issues seriously.

“Ontario’s craft brewing industry is experiencing tremendous new growth and success,” said Pratt Siddall. “To become a North American centre of excellence in craft brewing, we’ll need to be leaders in every area of the business, which includes minimizing water and resource use and moving towards a vision of zero discharge operations.”

The survey, conducted by the BLOOM Centre for Sustainability, also found that a majority of craft breweries plan to take progressive steps in 2017 to improve their water and resource management practices.

craft breweries survey actions

“Issues with the economic and environmental impact of water use and wastewater management are grabbing their attention,” said Kevin Jones, president of BLOOM. “We’re especially pleased to see such a high percentage of surveyed breweries taking action to divert and prevent materials such as spent yeast from going down the drain and increasing the strength of the wastewater.”

Haliburton Highlands Brewing is an example of a growing number of craft breweries that are thinking about sustainable resource management at the ‘design stage’.

“We are not connected to any municipal water infrastructure, which means we have to be good water stewards and resource managers” said Michael Schiedel-Webb, Haliburton Highlands Brewing Co-owner and Head Brewer.  “This necessity has become a passion and a fundamental aspect of our brewery operations.”

Schiedel-Webb explains in this video demonstration how they integrated water, energy and resource management in process design and equipment selection to benefit their business and the environment.  Read more about those eco-innovations in this Haliburton Echo news report.

“Smaller breweries like Haliburton Highlands are more likely to take a proactive approach at the design stage,” said Jones, noting that three-quarters of the BLOOM survey respondents were small and medium-sized breweries located in rural areas of Ontario.

“Moving past words into sustainable action reflects rural breweries’ unique situation and the pressing need to improve water management practices in less populated communities,” Jones said.

In rural communities where craft breweries are major industrial employers the discharge of large volumes of high-strength wastewater creates a burden at municipal treatment facilities.

Darren Smith, the owner of Lake of Bays Brewing in Baysville, Ontario agrees that keeping brewing by-product from going down the drain creates dollar savings and good Darren Smith Lake of Bays Brewingneighbourly relations.

“If you put things down a drain they’re not going away,” said Smith. “They’re just going someplace where someone else has to deal with them.”

Smaller and rural communities welcome craft breweries and their positive impact on local economies and employment.

Bob Young, Mayor of Lake of Bays, Ontario, advises collaborating closely with local breweries to both encourage their business contributions while also ensuring that the brewers are responsible in their water and waste management.

“It’s critical to be on same page,” Young said in an interview. “Both industry and municipalities have to understand the volume of waste and its contaminants.  It makes all the difference in the world.”

BLOOM launched an online platform, Water & Beer, last April to help craft breweries like Lake of Bays understand the ins, outs and in-betweens of water management.  Four of out five breweries surveyed have either visited Water & Beer or plan to in 2017.

The BLOOM survey also found that about 75 per cent of craft brewers familiar with Water & Beer are satisfied with the content. As a result, they have developed a better understanding of practices they can do to reduce water use, keep by-products out of the drain and improve brewery design.

“The Water & Beer platform is an awesome tool in raising awareness and helping implement better practices. Kudos for putting this together.” Mario Bourgeois, Cassel Brewery.

“Information is the key to helping the Ontario craft brewers in their efforts to be sector leaders in their efficient management of resources such as water,” said Michael Fagan, Senior VP of BLOOM.

“With the right information now available in one place, it is easy for brewers and other sector stakeholders to understand why it matters, what needs to happen and how to do it.”

Ontario craft breweries are now located in more than 100 communities across the province. There are more than 140 craft breweries and 50 contract breweries in Ontario, employing over 1,500 workers who help quench an ever-growing public thirst for naturally produced beer.

Kevin Jones said BLOOM is pleased to see the industry’s growing desire to improve their water and resource management practices, as indicated in the brewery survey.

“We know breweries are increasingly aware that water is the most important ingredient in their business operations,” Jones said.  “They are also starting to recognize the opportunities to save money in the beer making process by reusing water, capturing free energy and diverting spent yeast and other materials to beneficial end-use applications. Taking action on these opportunities will benefit their business, their local community and the environment.”

“Our government is a proud supporter of Ontario’s craft beer industry and their efforts to grow their businesses while protecting one of our most precious resources. We are proud to have supported this survey which clearly demonstrates our craft brewers’ commitment and leadership in improving our water and resource management.” — Jeff Leal, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

For further information contact:

Michael Fagan, Senior VP, BLOOM
Tel: 905-842-1115, ext. 227

This project is funded by Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

Water & Beer
About Water & Beer: an online platform designed to help craft brewers understand the ins, outs and in-betweens of water management and improve their resource management performance.  Water & Beer is the ‘go to’ resource for craft brewers who recognize that water management is important for their business, their customers and their communities.  BLOOM developed Water & Beer in collaboration with Ontario Craft Brewers, individual craft breweries, government agencies, and technology and solution providers – what BLOOM calls the Collective We.

About BLOOM: Making it Easier. Clean and Simple. BLOOM is a recognized and trusted authority on sustainability and resource management practices in Ontario. BLOOM works actively with Ontario industries to find practical and affordable business solutions that deliver economic, environmental and social benefits.  Follow BLOOM on TwitterFacebook and YouTube.

Ontario Craft Brewers
Ontario Craft Brewers: Real People. Real Craft Beer. Ontario Craft Brewers is an association dedicated to making great tasting, high quality beer in Ontario. Ontario Craft Brewers brew their beers locally using fresh, all natural ingredients in communities throughout Ontario. Craft beer is the fastest growing segment within the LCBO’s beer category. The OCB’s long term vision is to have at least one brewery in every city and town in the province and to make Ontario a North American centre of excellence for craft brewing. Follow the OCB on Twitter @OntCraftBrewers and on Facebook.