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The Green Life: Drink Responsibly: Beers That Won't Give the Planet a Hangover

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August 19, 2010

Drink Responsibly: Beers That Won't Give the Planet a Hangover

We drafted some of America's premier beer people and asked them to name their favorite eco-friendly brand of brew. Here are their recommendations.


Maura Burger
SAMUEL MERRITT is New York City's first certified cicerone (beer sommelier) and one of only 134 such specialists in the U.S. He's also the founder of Civilization of Beer, a beer education and consulting company.

"My pick is Old Walt Smoked Wit Beer from BLIND BAT BREWERY in Long Island, New York. It's light and refreshing, with citrus and coriander notes and subtle hints of smoke. Owner-brewer Paul Dlugokencky reuses the spent grain to feed livestock and mulch local farms, and he personally distributes his products in a flex-fuel vehicle. Blind Bat is a nanobrewery, the smallest kind of commercial brewery, producing, at most, a few hundred barrels per year." $6 per 22-ounce bottle


Matthew Testa
CHRISTINA PEROZZI (left) and HALLIE BEAUNE (right) are beer connoisseurs who cowrote The Naked Pint: An Unadulterated Guide to Craft Beer (Penguin, 2009) and partner with high-profile chefs to host beer-and-food-pairing dinners. Los Angeles magazine named Perozzi L.A.'s best beer sommelier.

"SIERRA NEVADA's Estate Homegrown Ale is a delicious amalgam of the company's West Coast and English India pale ales. Its aromatics are piney, grassy, citrus hops with a waft of grapefruit rind. All the ingredients are grown at the brewery—it doesn't get more local than that. Sierra Nevada is a family-owned microbrewery passionate about reducing its impact on the environment. Every inch of the brewery's rooftop that can support solar panels has them, and all the leftover water gets diverted to an on-site water-treatment facility." $9 per 25-ounce bottle


Courtesy of Kona Brewing Company
RICH TUCCIARONE is the brewmaster at Hawaii's Kona Brewing Company, a solar-powered operation that reduced its bottle weight by 11 percent this year, employs a sustainability coordinator, and produces the certified-organic Oceanic Organic Saison. Tucciarone also helps judge the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup.

"LAURELWOOD PUBLIC HOUSE AND BREWERY, in Portland, Oregon, makes Tree Hugger Porter, an excellent roasty ale that I enjoy whenever I'm in the area. This beer has a pronounced malt flavor and an aroma that elicits notes of bittersweet chocolate and fresh-roasted coffee, with just enough hops to round out the body and mouthfeel. This exceptionally tasty brew is certified organic, and Laurelwood's pubs focus on serving predominantly local products. They also compost all their food waste." $4.75 per 22-ounce bottle


Helen Montoya
TRAVIS E. POLING is the co-author of Beer Across Texas: A Guide to the Brews and Brewmasters of the Lone Star State (Maverick, 2009) and writes the columns "Bottle & Tap" and "Pondered Pint" for the San Antonio Current. He produces beer-themed dinners and works as a beer consultant for restaurants and distributors.

"There are plenty of coffee porters out there, but REAL ALE BREWING COMPANY, in the Texas Hill Country, takes it a step further by using organic, shade-grown, fair-trade coffee from Mexico. Its Coffee Porter is a medium-bodied ale with hints of smoke, bitter, sweet, and chocolate. The 10 percent Munich malt used is organically grown, and the six-pack carriers are made of recycled cardboard. Real Ale recently installed solar panels to heat its water." About $10 per six-pack


James Skovmand
PETER ROWE has been the beer critic for the San Diego Union-Tribune since 1995. His "Pint-Sized Pour" reviews run in the newspaper's entertainment section, and he's the keeper of the blog Brewery Rowe.

"Introducing NEW BELGIUM into the eco-friendly beer conversation is like shooting sustainable fish in a recyclable barrel—it's a natural. The Fort Collins, Colorado, brewery runs on wind power and encourages employees to commute by bike. In 2007, Mothership Wit became its first certified-organic beer. This spicy wheat brew offers aromas of peaches, pears, and wild blackberries; soft coriander and orange-peel flavors over a firm malt base; and a finish reminiscent of lemon cake." About $8 per six-pack

--Avital Binshtock

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