Yesterday The Washington Post published a profile on Ian Hughes, Goose Island Beer’s environmental safety manager or, as the Post calls him, “the man who wants to make sure climate change doesn’t ruin your beer.”
Before getting into what Hughes is doing, it would be prudent to just rip off the damning statistical Band-Aid now: According to the Post, beers produced at Goose Island’s facility in Chicago “mostly starts out as water from Chicago’s municipal supply.”
With that, consider:
“Sewage empties into the Chicago River when an inch of rain falls city-wide.”
“About 40 percent of the region’s annual rainfall can come from the 10 heaviest storms — the kind that propel feces into fresh water.”
These types of downpours, which scientists blame on climate change, “could triple in the Midwest during the next century,” the article adds.
Now, to Hughes’ efforts: A Member of the Brewers for Clean Water Campaign, Hughes is making himself known on the lecture circuit, preaching the importance of clean water at Northwestern University, the Great Lakes Water Conservation Conference, and South By Southwest.
Hughes isn’t merely a talking head, however. Beyond spreading the gospel about clean H20, he’s a guinea pig of sorts, tasting the water himself before a bad supply infiltrates a Goose Island brew.
“Each week, Hughes hosts a water-testing panel, sipping specimens from seven brewery faucets, taking notes,” the article continues. “If samples don’t pass inspection, brewing must halt — and a delay would cost the company thousands of dollars.”
So the next time you pick up a six-pack of Goose, you can thank Mr. Hughes for ensuring the water used during the brewing process was up to snuff.
While Goose Island seems focused on ensuring the quality of its brews, a host of other U.S. beer companies are preoccupied with expanding their operations.
San Diego’s Ballast Point Brewing Co. has opened a new taproom at the Del Mar Fairgrounds (in a space previously occupied by Oggi’s Pizza and Brewing), according to the San Diego Reader. Featuring four of Ballast Point’s beers on tap, The Jockey Box, as its named, also sells food and a number of the brewery’s packaged offerings.
Meanwhile, Kentucky’s Against the Grain Brewery plans to expand production by over 400 percent in 2015, thanks to the purchase of a new production and packaging facility in Louisville. The 25,000 sq. ft. space will feature a 30-barrel brewhouse and allow for an initial annual production of 6,500 barrels per year, according to a statement issued by the company. Currently, the brewery produces around 1,500 barrels annually.
The new facility will enable Against the Grain to increase service throughout the state by 150 percent, as well as increase existing “national and global sales by 250 [percent].”
And in Naperville, Ill., Solemn Oath Brewing Co. also detailed its own expansion plans this week.
The company is currently building a packaging room with brite tanks, filling equipment and a 19,000 cubic foot cooler. Solemn Oath said it also plans to install a new brewhouse before the end of the year.
“The new brewhouse, along with the four sixty-barrel fermenters and sixty-barrel brite tank coming with it, is the infrastructure we need to make enough beer to ease our current and expected demand in existing markets for the next several years,” according to the statement.
All told, the new equipment will increase the brewery’s production capacity by 94 percent.
Expansions aren’t the only way to raise a company’s profile, however, and Dark Horse Brewing Co. is trying to prove as much through less traditional means.
Yes, the Marshall, Mich.-based brewery has landed its own reality show on the History Channel. “Dark Horse Nation,” will debut on July 29 at 10 p.m.
The announcement comes nearly one full year after Esquire Network announced the premiere of BREW DOGS, a series based on the founders of the UK brewery by the same name.
Lastly, Sacramento, Calif.’s Hoppy Brewing Co. is celebrating its 20th anniversary this month.
Having been in the game for so long, Hoppy’s owner Troy Paski offered up some advice to startup breweries in a Q&A with the Sacramento Bee:
“If you were brewing as a hobby and now you’re doing this as a job, you’re going to have to find a new hobby. You have to find something else to do with your time when you’re not working, because if you take your hobby and make it your job, what are you going to do in your free time?”