Alternative Energy

Published on January 18th, 2010 | by Guest Contributor


New Year’s Resolutions at Colorado’s Green Breweries

Green beer doesn’t just mean toasting to a four-leaf clover on St. Patrick’s Day or buying a six pack of Rolling Rock. Colorado breweries are at the forefront of the green revolution, essentially leading the way toward creating products with renewable energy. In Colorado, two major brewing companies each made announcements of green improvements to their breweries early in January of 2010: New Belgium and Odell.

Photo Credit: Sean Munson The New Belgium Brewery has been utilizing wind energy for over a decade.

The New Belgium Brewery has been utilizing wind energy for over a decade.

The New Belgium brewery announced in the first week of January the opening of a 200 KW photovoltaic solar electric system on the roof of their bottling plant, with the plan for the solar array to be the main source of power for up to 8 hours on a sunny day. The array will create 16% of the brewery’s peak electrical load and 3% of the overall energy use.

New Belgium has long been hailed for their renewable energy habits. In 1998 the employee-owned company voted to start buying wind energy-by 1999 they were powering everything with the energy of wind. They are so dedicated to the cause that they actually pay more than they need to for power- and still turn a respectable profit.

New Belgium’s founder was inspired by a bike tour he took of Belgian breweries, and the bike continues to be ubiquitous in New Belgium’s ethos- a cruiser bike adorns their flagship Fat Tire beer, employees receive a cruiser bike on their one year anniversary with the company, and in the spirit of Earth-friendly travel, all of the power used at the brewery is renewable. And then, of course, there is the Tour de Fat – a green traveling circus that brings beer and renewable celebration to towns in the West.

Not to be outdone, the Odell brewery in Fort Collins will also open their own photovoltaic solar array, with 384 200 watt panels on an 11,000 square foot roof, producing a projected 111,400 KW hours per year. The array can provide up to 39% of the brewery’s energy.

“We really want to make this an opportunity for public awareness about renewable energy. Regardless of global warming, I think it is clear to everyone that we can’t use fossil fuels forever. We need to move to other technologies.” – Doug Odell

And Odell will be harnessing the power of the Internet to educate people about what they are doing- Odell will track real-time kilowatt hours produced, total kilowatt hours and CO2 saved. He will also stream a live webcam of the system and put that video on display in the brewery’s own tap room. Live webcams will feature images of the system.

Cheers to breweries leading the way toward renewable living!

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