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 Arbor Brewing Co.
Location: Ann Arbor, Mich.
Founded: Original pub was founded in 1995, by Matt and Rene Greff. Production brewery opened in 2006 in Ypsilanti, Mich.
Popular Beers: Buzz Saw IPA, Bollywood Blonde, Violin Monster
Green Hook: This brewery’s Ann Arbor location features the first solar powered brewery in Michigan. Its Ypsilanti location features the largest solar powered brewery east of Colorado.
The company started using solar power after looking into ways that energy could be saved.
“We had a group of masters students from the University of Michigan do a long term study of our energy usage,” said founder and owner Rene Greff. “It showed what an impact solar could have on energy savings.”
The company uses a hybrid solar panel system purchased from a start-up company in Detroit, Greff said.
“They’re awesome because they do solar thermal and photovoltaic panels, which work more efficiently because solar thermal pulls heat away from the photovoltaic panels, so they work better when they are combined into a system,” she said.
About 15 percent of the brewery’s electricity and about 55 percent of its hot water comes from the solar panels. The company also has an energy-saving cooling system for its warehouse and beer.
“We have six 90-foot wells dug under the parking lot and a radiant floor system maintains the temperature around 55 degrees year round,” said Greff. ”We use minimal electricity and pumps that are supplied by the solar panels.”