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Craft beer and the environment​. These are two things that Pacific Northwest is known for (if you couldn't already tell by all the hiking trails and brew pubs). Because of this, we would love to talk about Fortside Brewing Company in Vancouver: a local craft brewery with a talent for sustainability. Fortside opened in 2015 and earned Green Business certification in 2016. Their certification makes them one of only three breweries to be certified in the Green Business program in Clark County.

Brewing beer typically requires a lot of energy. To start a batch, the mixture of water, hops, and malt or other grains must be boiled and cooled before fermentation. Instead of using refrigeration to cool the boiled mixture, Fortside uses a heat exchange system with naturally-cool municipal water, saving energy. Once the cool water is heated via the heat exchange, the hot water is recaptured and used for boiling the next batch, so the heat energy is not wasted. 

This heating and cooling process is one of the brewing methods that sets Fortside apart from other breweries when it comes to energy conservation. To further save energy in the brewery, they replaced metal-halide lamps with energy-efficient LEDs, and upgraded to an instant water heater. 

To reduce waste, Fortside purchases their raw grains in bulk packages called ​Super Sacks​. This is a significant reduction of waste because grain bags, similar to pet food bags, are generally not recyclable. One ​Super Sack​ holds the same amount of grain as 40 smaller bags, reducing the amount of non-recyclable packing generated by the brewing process. To further reduce waste, spent grains go to a local pig farmer for feeding animals and creating compost.  

What's in store for Fortside in the future? Co-owner Mike DiFabio was excited to share with us that they plan to open a food cart outside of their tasting room and begin serving food. And of course, they will be composting their food scraps! To learn more about Fortside, visit their website

At Fortside, kegs make up the majority of their packaged final product. According to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality's 2017 report on food products, the largest carbon impact from beer comes from packaging. Refilling kegs and other vessels dramatically lowers the environmental impact of your favorite brew. So dust off your growlers and opt for a refill! View the full Oregon DEQ study at: https://www.oregon.gov/deq/FilterDocs/PEF-Beer-FullReport.pdf.