How Colorado's beer industry is making strides in sustainability

·2 min read

For breweries, it's not enough to make good beer. It needs to be sustainably made, too.

Driving the news: The movement is apparent in Colorado, where big and small brewers are making investments to minimize their environmental impact.

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  • Coors is modernizing its Golden brewery ahead of the company's 150th anniversary in 2023. The new system will save 100 million gallons of water a year, reduce energy usage and cut waste.

  • In Fort Collins, Anheuser-Busch is spending $18 million to upgrade its brewery as part of a larger investment in sustainability projects, including solar power and water treatment upgrades.

  • Denver Beer Co. is expanding its effort to capture carbon dioxide naturally produced during fermentation, and set a goal to be a 100% solar-powered brewery.

What's more: Denver Beer's work began as a pilot project in 2020 supported by the state's environmental agency.

  • It saved the equivalent of 93 trees' worth of CO2 from entering the atmosphere, the company says.

  • The brewery sells the gas to a cannabis company for use in its growing process, and it's starting to use reclaimed CO2 in all its taprooms, co-founder Patrick Crawford tells Axios.

What they're saying: "Everyone's aware of the air quality in Denver now, so anything we can do to minimize impact is important," Crawford says. "I think customers notice that and embrace that."

The big picture: Consumers of alcohol in Colorado want to see beverage makers prioritize social responsibility, according to a new poll.

The Purple Report survey, led by pollster David Flaherty and business analyst Ryan Frazier, found that investing in environmental, social and governance best practices is good for the bottom line.

  • The poll focused on the alcohol industry but offers broader insights into what shapes customers' decision making.

By the numbers: 62% said they were more likely to purchase products from breweries, wineries and distilleries that focus on ESG practices, according to the poll provided to Axios Denver.

  • An equal number said it was important for these booze makers to have diverse leadership teams.

  • The top priority among consumers is ensuring the health and safety of workers, and providing a living wage.

Of note: A majority of the consumers went so far as to say they would support a policy that would require breweries, wineries and distilleries to disclose their ESG standards.

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