The abundant freshwater of the Great Lakes region is increasingly used for craft beer brewing. Breweries compete for customers with an eclectic array of beers and a raft of sustainable efforts.
Some companies recycle used grain, others use recycled packaging. Some run delivery trucks on vegetable oil or harness wind and solar power. Some even donate proceeds to watershed projects. Over the next few weeks, Echo will briefly profile some of the eco-friendly brewing around the Great Lakes.
Today, we look at Lakefront Brewery, Inc.
Location: Milwaukee, Wis.
Founded: 1987 by the Klisch brothers, Russ and Jim.
Popular Beers: Organic and Gluten Free New Grist, Organic ESB Ale, Riverwest Stein Beer, IPA
Green Hook: This brewery is located in a retired power plant building along the Milwaukee River. It features a white roof, helping keep the city cooler by reflecting the heat instead of absorbing it, said Russ Klisch, founder and owner of the brewery.
Lakefront became the first certified organic brewery in the country in 1996 with the making of Organic ESB, which is the first 100 percent organic beer.
“I never liked the idea of farmers having to put pesticides or chemicals on the ground that we grow the food on,” Russ Klisch said. “I didn’t believe it was good on a health or energy standpoint. All that stuff runs off into lakes and streams. The more we support organic, the more it will cut down on pollution…the ingredients are getting better, because people like myself that got into doing that, giving belief to farmers to improve what they’re doing and to stick with it.”
The brewery also features LED or fluorescent lighting throughout the building to increase energy efficiency. It reuses heat from the boiling of beer to heat up the next batch, Klisch said. Heat produced during refrigeration warms cold water as it comes into the hot water heaters. The brewery is a founding member of Local First Milwaukee, an organization to make the community more sustainable by choosing local business first. Lakefront has been recognized for sustainable practices by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ Green Tier program.