As part of a broader move toward becoming a “truly sustainable brewery,” Jester King has activated what it claims to be one of the largest solar power systems in Central Texas. In turn, the company says that on sunny days, the brewery can now run 100% on solar power, send excess heat back to the grid, and reduce the transfer of thermal heat to its barrel room, thereby making the brewing process itself less energy intensive.
“Solar energy at Jester King is the most recent step in making the brewery more sustainable. But we still have a long way to go,” says founder Jeffrey Stuffings in a statement. “For instance, we still need to develop the ability to catch our own rainwater, treat our wastewater for irrigation, and power our boiler off of biofuels and/or brewery waste.”
To help fund the project, the brewery relied on a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, while Circular Energy, an energy solutions provider, helped guide the installation process.
WHY IT MATTERS
Jester King has previously been recognized for its sustainability efforts relating to its on-site farming techniques. Now, with this announcement and an apparent commitment to future initiatives, the company solidifies its rank among the likes of industry leaders of both brewing and sustainability, including New Belgium, Allagash, Brooklyn Brewery, and Odell.
More importantly, though, than any one company’s sustainability pledge, here we have another sign that the craft beer industry, both in and out of the vaunted top 50, is taking seriously its responsibility to look forward with environmental conservation in mind. And this shift in mindset has manifested itself in many ways in the last year alone:
You can see it in Boston, where a half dozen breweries partnered to brew beer made with water from the notoriously foul Charles River to demonstrate that one need not sacrifice quality at the altar of preservation. You can see it in San Diego, where there’s a push to build an anaerobic digester within city limits, which would use spent grains from breweries to create gas and, in turn, power those same breweries. And you can see it when three-dozen craft breweries from around the country unite in an effort to block the confirmation of Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA, a man they said had the potential to be “the most hostile EPA administrator toward clean air and safe drinking water in history.”
It’s not just craft brewers, either. Both Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors have resolved to uphold sustainability as a core tenet of their respective futures.
These varied efforts deserve recognition, of course, but they're not a purely altruistic effort on the part of the craft beer industry, either. In fact, it’s not at all cynical or overly critical to point out that these brewers also have the winds of capitalism at their backs. Beer is a luxury product, after all. It’s also, in its heart and soul, an agricultural product. So if the future of beer is at all important to brewers, working toward sustainability should not be viewed as an individual company’s philosophy, but rather as an industry-wide responsibility.
That being said, shoutout to Jester King for being responsible. We'll look forward to more news like this coming from the Texas Hill Country soon.