It’s been an uncompromising few weeks at the office and I have been guilty of not only replacing breakfast and lunch with coffee but also replacing dinner with such foods, uh, “foods” as licorice and Trader Joe’s-version Doritos (pretty damn good, actually). I need a vacation, or maybe, a beer. Maybe a delicious local beer. Maybe a delicious local beer described by its maker as tasting akin to “sunshine in a glass.” Yes, that sounds exactly like what I need.
And I found it, at Eagle Rock Brewery.
Manifesto, Eagle Rock’s Belgian-style white ale was light and refreshing. And quite frankly, a lot about Eagle Rock Brewery is refreshing. There are no TVs (due to a strange L.A. permit) which leads people to actually (gasp!) talk with each other. There are actually board games, if you so please. That beats standing room only and having to shout over the big screen any day in my book. But there’s something else refreshing about Eagle Rock. Despite the fact that their doors have only been open to the public for about the last 4 1/2 months, they already have some pretty impressive eco-initiatives.
They conserve and reuse as much water as possible. But wait, there’s more, and it’s really cool. Eagle Rock donates their spent grains to a local farmer to feed to livestock. I had to read a chapter out of a brewery book to fully understand the amount of waste and waste-water created from brewing beer. It was entitled, “Down the Drain, but Not Forgotten.” Working in the environmental field, I’m surprised that this inconvenient fact about leftovers never occurred to me; the waste has to go somewhere.
If you need more info to wrap your head around the amount of waste left after making beer (I did), picture this: even an average home-brewed batch will leave the brewer with a lot of material that would most likely end up in the trash. For one five-gallon batch, a brewer can start with two to seven pounds of dry grain. I had to ask my resident beer-master, Brent Fedor about the rest. What? I like drinking it, I don’t have a clue about making it. Once Brent’s boiled out the grain to get all the nutrients and flavor needed for the fermentation process, he rinses out the grains and squeezes them out. The leftover moist grains will then be about double in weight. That’s a lot to dump just for one small batch. A craft brewery making 30 barrel batches at a time (1 barrel = 31 U.S. gallons) can produce up around 750-2500 lbs. of waste! (I made big eyes at that statement, go ahead, you can too, I’ll wait.) Well, what does that mean for huge breweries then? Says Brent, “Big breweries are often much more efficient than the homebrewer, so the approximation may be a little rough, but it still shows how much garbage can potentially pile up.”
So, I applaud Eagle Rock not just for their stellar beer, but also for their environmental stewardship and the fact that when you go there, you actually feel like you were invited to a really nice house party with a great beer selection. And how often do those things pair up? Yes, I’m speaking to whoever brought the Budweiser to my birthday party…
For all questions home-brewing-related, I suggest you ask the expert (who definitely did NOT bring the offending Budweiser), at Brewty and the Yeast.