ustainability is a crucial part of a brewery’s make-up these days. Brewing itself uses up a lot of energy and according to some figures it takes 168 litres of water to make a pint of beer. Consumers are also keen to see that their favourite brewers are doing their bit for the environment.
One of the most ecologically aware breweries in the Midlands (or even the UK) is Purity Brewing, who on their foundation in 2005 were absolutely clear over the way they wanted to go.
‘Myself and co-brewery founder Jim are passionate about sustainability and always have been,’ says Purity CEO Paul Halsey. ‘We could have set up a brewery in an industrial estate and had a bigger and more sensible set-up for a business with the ability to grow easier, but could we have been sustainable and have a wetland system like we have? No.
‘This was all about regeneration and sustainability and it permeates throughout our business from the spent grain, hops and yeast all recycled within the local farming community (including our own), through to our wetland system which takes our used water, cleans it through a series of pools, before ending back in the River Arrow as pure water.
‘We continue to review the materials we use and reduce our use of plastics. We're currently trialing a cardboard can topper, to remove the use of plastic. We're always looking to reduce our water consumption and our BrauKon Brew kit helps us to do that.’
Looking around the brewing industry, more breweries are becoming aware of their brewing processes and how they impact on the environment. Last year Carlsberg dispensed with the plastic rings for multi-can packs, replacing them with a special glue that holds the cans together. Lower down the brewing ladder, many smaller breweries have long sent out used grains and hops to farmers and gardens. This is all something that Halsey is happy to encourage.
‘We would always encourage any business to try and do things as sustainably as possible and for the beer industry it should be no different,’ he says. ‘Technology is constantly evolving to help us use less water etc. Not everyone can be based out in the countryside like us, but there are always ways to ensure you're brewing with a conscience which is something we're great believers in.’
Another aspect of Purity’s approach is striving to make organic beer. The company recently received the Soil Association’s organic certification process, but so far this is only for Pure Helles, but for Halsey it’s another indication of the direction Purity is going.
‘For now it is just Pure Helles that has gone organic,’ he says, ‘and the response has been fantastic. Again for us, it was the right step in the evolution of our business and as previously mentioned, brewing with a conscience. There are plans in place to develop this further within our range, but nothing we can announce yet.’
Purity also place great importance on being part of the local community, in their sports’ sponsorships for instance — they were recently announced as official ale supplier to Aston Villa, while they also have the first and only Cask Marque accredited beer in a stadium in the UK at Wasps.
I am an Alcester man,’ says Halsey, ‘and so the local community has always been integral to the business and remains a key pillar of ours. Many of the brew team are locals who have joined the business and grown with it. The eco-friendly approach has also allowed us to help the local farming community too, with our spent resources and we also support a number of local events where we can.’