Beer would seem to be a relatively environmentally friendly drink. Most brewers seem to have switched from bottles to cans, which are lighter and more compact. “Cans are designed for transport,” says beer specialist Dean McGuinness. “There is far less air than with bottles. They are lighter and allow you to pack 25-30 per cent more beer in the same space when transporting.”
Keeping massed rows of beer chilled for long periods of time seems wasteful and must use large amounts of electricity, as well as contributing to global warming. Retail shops are beginning to install beer fridges with glass doors which lessens energy use. If not for immediate consumption, you could question if they actually need to be kept cold.
McGuinness says that pre-pandemic there was a trend in the US towards nano-breweries that do not own delivery vans and only service their very local neighbourhood. Over here, Cuilan Loughnane of White Gypsy has always sold 75 per cent of his beer within a 40-mile radius of his brewery in Templemore, and most of it in cask. Wicklow Wolf has worked hard to lessen its carbon footprint and say the latest edition of Locavore is Ireland’s first carbon-neutral beer, made from Irish malt, their own hops, water and renewable electricity.
As most mainstream and craft beers are brewed here in Ireland, there is no shipping involved. Draught beer is more environmentally friendly as the packaging is returned and reused, although the kegs must be cleaned with CO2. But could it be that going round to your local and ordering a pint is one of the more environmentally friendly ways of enjoying a drink?