Is Brewing Beer Bad for the Environment? 5 Proven Concerns

Is brewing beer bad for the environment?

While beer is often associated with celebrations and relaxation, there are some environmental issues associated with the brewing process. Is brewing beer bad for the environment?

Beer brewing is associated with environmental concerns, the most significant environmental issues associated with the operation phase of breweries include water consumption, wastewater, solid waste and by-products, energy use, and emissions to the air.

Nonetheless, the benefits of beer far outweigh any potential drawbacks. Beer is a source of joy for millions of people around the world. From the relaxed atmosphere of a local brewpub to the comradery and community involvement that comes with participating in a local beer club, beer offers something for everyone.

The production and consumption of beer have been an indispensable part of many cultures across time and geography. With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that the world of beer and brewing is more than just a source of pleasure.

Is Brewing Beer Bad for the Environment?

The beer brewing process requires a significant amount of resources in water consumption and electricity consumption, which can have a negative impact on the environment. Moreover, brewing beer produces wastes such as wastewater, solid waste and by-products, and emissions to the air (CO2) which make a significant contribution to polluting the environment.

However, there are many things that brewers and breweries can do to reduce this impact. Most of the current breweries have taken significant effects to reduce the environmental impact of their business.

The most significant environmental issues associated with the operation phase of breweries include:

  1. Water consumption
  2. Wastewater
  3. Solid waste and by-products
  4. Energy consumption
  5. Emissions to air.

1. Water Consumption

How much water in a beer?

Breweries consume a large amount of water. Water is an essential component in the brewing process and without it, beer could not be produced.

Brewers use water in four primary ways: for cleaning, steam production, malting, and for cooling. Not surprisingly, water is the largest single raw material used during the brewery process with an estimated average volume of 3-4 million gallons per year depending on the size of the brewery.

As breweries grow bigger, so does their demand for water–which tends to come from local sources that may be limited or polluted. To circumvent this issue and ensure sufficient supply, some breweries purchase purified water in bulk from commercial suppliers or even build their own wells.

Moreover, some of the breweries have invested in wastewater purification so that they can recycle it and reduce water wastage.

How much water does brewing beer use?

Your average beer is composed of 90 to 95 percent water and thus it takes four to seven gallons of water to produce one gallon of beer. Some of the largest single sources of water usage in brewing are producing beer mash, cleaning brewing equipment and beer bottles, and cooling the brewing equipment.

Brewing beer leaves a significant environmental footprint and is one of the most water-intensive industries in the world. It requires at least 4 liters of water to produce one liter of beer. This means that it takes about 12 liters of water to make a typical six-pack of beer.

How much water do I need for a 5-gallon batch of beer?

Water required to make 5-gallon batch of beer

As stated, beer production is water intensive. You will find most breweries having challenges with the water bills or water consumption with the municipal water bodies.

On average, it takes at least twenty gallons of water to produce five gallons of beer in most breweries. Thus, a 1-gallon batch of beer will require at least four gallons of water to produce. The water is used to produce the mash, steam production, cool off the beer-making systems, and clean off the machinery once the brewing is done.

Water waste is also significant for the beer production process. That is why most breweries are investing in modern wastewater recycling systems. Moreover, most breweries have invested in modern water harvesting and dug up wells/ boreholes to satisfy the water needs.

How much water does it take to make a liter of beer?

A common misconception is that the process of brewing beer is bad for the environment because a lot of water is needed as compared to winemaking or hard alcohol production.

But surprisingly, it’s not that bad. It takes 4 liters of water to make one liter of beer.

This may seem like a lot but it still takes less water than wine or hard alcohol. Producing one liter of wine will require at least 4.74 liters of water while hard alcohol will require 34.55 liters of water to produce a liter of hard alcohol.

Making a 12-ounce bottle of beer requires about 2 gallons (8 liters) of water, and most people will drink more than one bottle in a sitting, which means that the impact on our global water resources increases significantly.

How can breweries conserve water?

Breweries can conserve water by installing several technologies that minimize water use including the use of a tremendous mash filter and a hot-water recovery system, which is a closed-loop cooling system that captures water from the wort stream and reuses it for subsequent batches.

Moreover, the breweries can install wastewater recycling plants that make the water reusable or which can be used for irrigation. This way, the water is not dumped into the other water sources.

Finally, the plants can use innovative ways to clean the equipment with minimal water loss or usage. This ensures that minimal water is used in the whole brewing process.

2. Wastewater

Breweries produce wastewater through the cleaning of equipment, utensils, and fermentation tanks. This wastewater contains sulfates, nitrates from hops, and phosphates from yeast. Roughly 10-30 percent of a brewery’s water consumption goes towards cleaning the process of brewing beer.

Wastewater created during the brewing process can contain high levels of sulfites as well as spent hops and yeast. The leftover residue from these items is then flushed out into rivers or other bodies of water where they can cause severe damage to aquatic life populations.

The wastewater produced by breweries typically contains chemicals like acetone, methanol, phenols, polyphenols, and other organic compounds (including oils) as well as hops residues. These substances are harmful if they make contact with animals or humans so appropriate treatment is necessary before being released into the natural environment.

Wastewater treatment plants are not designed to remove these chemicals and must instead rely on advanced biological treatment using microorganisms called activated sludge to break down these toxic substances.

How much wastewater does brewing beer produce?

Best Electric All-in-One Automated Brewing Systems

The wastewater produced by breweries is a mixture of water and beer. This wastewater can also contain ingredients that were used in the brewing process, such as unfermented sugars, yeast, and leftover grains. Large and small breweries alike produce wastewater that may be harmful to the environment.

For instance, even though it may not seem like much water, the large brewery produces about 7 to 10 gallons of wastewater, also known as effluent, for every gallon of beer they brew while craft brewers produce closer to 3 gallons of wastewater per gallon of beer produced. That’s a lot more than you think.

Brewers must take care to treat this type of waste properly or it could have negative effects on the ecosystem downstream from the brewery. The wastewater from big brewers contains up to 1 ppm (parts per million) of alcohol, which is enough to create algae blooms in some lakes.

Microbreweries are less likely to cause environmental problems because their production methods typically yield 1/10th or less alcohol content than big brewers’. Craft brewers should be careful with their disposal practices because they often use natural ingredients that create high levels of organic waste matter when broken down.

3. Solid Waste and other by-products

Although the brewing process is a natural one that relies on time and natural ingredients, it is not environmentally friendly. The most significant environmental issues associated with the operation phase of breweries include water consumption, wastewater, solid waste and by-products, energy use, and emissions into the air.

Brewers produce two types of solid waste—organic material like spent grains that can be composted and inorganic material like food packaging and glass bottles that are sent off for recycling.

Solid waste from breweries includes unused hops, malt extract syrup, grain remnants used for cleaning equipment, and containers used for filtering and storing before packaging.

These items are then often left outside in piles that can release methane gas into the atmosphere or reach waterways via runoff.

4. Energy Consumption

The most significant environmental issues associated with the operation phase of breweries include water consumption, wastewater, solid waste and by-products, energy use, and emissions to the air.

Refrigeration consumes 30–40% of the electricity needed while other components take up 10–30% of electricity consumption followed by utilities which take up 15–20% of electrical consumption. For breweries with carbon filters, the process of carbon dioxide emissions reduction will gobble up 6.5% of the electricity.

However, breweries can major in electric power generation. This is instead of the by-products being disposed of in landfills or composted.

Brewing craft beer at home is a great way to save money on your beer bill and it’s also a fun activity that you can share with friends. If you’re looking for a new hobby or want to spend time with some friends while drinking some delicious craft beer, then it’s never been easier than it is today.

How much energy does brewing beer use?

Beer production is energy intensive. It consumes electricity in malting, fermentation, bottling, refrigeration, transportation, and other beer production stages.

Brewing beer may use a lot of energy, but it’s also worth noting that brewing your own beer can cost less in the long run. A craft brewery will use between 50 and 66 kWh to produce one barrel of beer.

The cost per barrel is typically between $5 and $6.60, depending on the ingredients and alcohol content. In terms of overall energy usage, it would be difficult to say which is better for the environment. It really just depends on how many beers you drink a year.

5. Emissions to Air

Breweries are also a source of air pollution, mostly from the burning of fossil fuels to generate heat for boiling wort and to power refrigeration units.

However, the process of fermentation, bottling, and preservation of beer produces emissions into the air in high quantities. Malting and fermentation produce a significant amount of carbon dioxide while preservation also requires carbon dioxide.

You will find that beer production also produces methane gas.

Methane gas is released when solid waste decomposes outside or reaches waterways via runoff which generates harmful greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. This can be combated with composting.

What gas does fermenting beer produce?

Fermenting beer produces carbon dioxide, which is a by-product of the process. Brewers create carbon dioxide themselves through the fermentation process.

The gas is then captured and used for other purposes such as refrigeration or boosting pressure in kegs. It is not released into the atmosphere, so it does not contribute to climate change in a marked manner if it is captured.

However, beer production also produces methane and Nitrous oxide. These are mostly produced when the waste matter is being composted or used in electricity production.

Does brewing beer produce CO2?

Does brewing beer produce carbon dioxide (Co2)?

When you malt the grain and also ferment beer, the process produces alcohol and carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. The process of fermentation creates carbon dioxide, which is a natural byproduct of yeast in beer.

This can lead to an increase in atmospheric CO2 levels due to its release into the atmosphere during brewing. Not all breweries release carbon dioxide in the air though. Some are able to capture it for beer preservation.

However, many breweries are implementing recycling programs that reduce CO2 production by diverting waste from landfills and turning it into biofuel that is then used as an alternative energy source or sold on the market.

How much CO2 is produced by brewing beer?

Brewing beer produces a significant amount of carbon dioxide which if not captured is harmful to the environment.

A 10-bbl batch of average-strength beer will produce approximately 48 kg (848 cubic feet) of carbon dioxide (CO2), which is about the same as a refrigerator.

Beer produces more CO2 emissions than it does produce other greenhouse gas emissions such as methane and nitrous oxide. This is because CO2 is emitted during the fermentation process, which releases methane, a greenhouse gas with 23 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide.

Does brewing beer produce methane?

Brewing beer does produce methane, but a professional brewer will design a system to burn this gas and turn it into electricity. This is done in the form of an anaerobic digester which converts the beer waste to methane which is then burned to heat boilers to make beer.

Most breweries build an anaerobic digester that converts the beer waste to methane which is then burned to heat boilers to make beer. Some breweries use green energy sources and sell their excess power back into the grid.

Tips for Brewing Beer at Home with the Lowest Impact

For those who are interested in brewing beer at home, there are some simple ways to minimize the environmental impact of the process.

To reduce the environmental impact, one of the easiest to implement tips is to recycle spent grains and yeast. Spent grains from your small brewing hobby or from a local brewery can be dried and used to feed livestock or compost them.

Yeast can be recycled by adding it back into your next batch of wort (unfermented beer). This way, there is less wastage and filling of the landfills.

The other way is to use low-impact packaging. When you buy hops and grain, they’re typically sold in paper bags or cardboard boxes. You can also use a refillable bottle as a container for your finished beer.

What are some ways that breweries can reduce their environmental impact?

Conventional brewing isn’t eco-friendly. However, you can use several methods to reduce the impact of brewing on the environment. Some of the ways that breweries can reduce their environmental impact include:

  1. Using renewable energy such as wind turbines, solar energy, or capturing methane to produce energy
  2. Using waste to produce electricity
  3. Recycling water
  4. Capturing methane produced from the brewing process
  5. Reducing water usage in beer production
  6. Using spent grain as animal feed/ manure
  7. Getting the ingredients from local suppliers
  8. Installing efficient lighting
  9. Cutting transportation emissions among others

Brewing beer is an environmentally-friendly hobby. You can reduce your impact on the environment by brewing your own beer at home or supporting your local microbrewery, which also contributes to the economy in your community.

Most impactful way that brewing beer is bad for the environment

The most significant environmental issues associated with the operation phase of breweries include water consumption, wastewater, solid waste and by-products, energy use, and emissions into the air.

Brewing beer requires a lot of water – and not just for the brewing process, but for cleaning and for cooling during fermentation. The amount of water used during production can vary depending on the type of brewery, but it’s certainly something that brewers are keeping in mind.

While new technologies are being developed to conserve water usage in breweries, there is no shortage of breweries that have already made strides in this area. There are also many ways in which homebrewers can conserve water through their processes.

Is making beer environmentally friendly?

Most breweries that follow the normal brewing process aren’t eco-friendly. The industry produces a lot of waste and emissions while also consuming a lot of resources.

In order to make beer more eco-friendly, producers need to find ways to reduce the amount of water, energy, and other resources they use while also looking for ways to reduce their waste.

One way this can happen is by using renewable or recycled materials in place of those that are depleted. It is also important to reuse what we have in a creative way by thinking about how the packaging can be reused.

What is sustainable beer?

Brewing beer is can be an environmentally friendly process because it uses grain and water, which are renewable resources. Additionally, breweries have a high recycling rate for the aluminum cans that hold their products, due to the fact that they can be recycled more than 18 times before they need to be discarded.

However, there are many other environmental impacts associated with operating a brewery, such as wastewater and water consumption. Luckily, there are sustainable ways to brew beer without sacrificing quality or taste.

One method is upcycling used water––this means reusing wastewater from other processes in order to conserve freshwater sources.

Another way to improve sustainability is taking land stewardship initiatives––these initiatives promote conservation and resource management through activities like managing water levels in wetlands and protecting endangered species habitats.

The final sustainable way of brewing beer is recovering carbon dioxide from the fermentation cycle––this method captures CO2 emissions from fermentation and releases them into greenhouses where plants consume them for growth (these plants also absorb CO2 during photosynthesis).

What is left over after brewing beer?

The by-products of brewing beer are often leftover as a result of the process. One by-product spent grain, is actually quite nutrient-rich and can be fed to livestock or composted. The other by-products are not so benign and need to be dealt with carefully.

For example, wastewater needs to be treated properly before it is released back into the environment. Some breweries have chosen to use a system called bioremediation, where microbes break down organic substances in the water that would otherwise cause it to become polluted.

Can you compost spent grain from brewing?

When it comes to brewing beer at home, there are many different decisions you have to make. You need to make a decision on whether to compost or through the spent grain in the litter bins.

Spent grain is the leftovers from the brewing process, and it can be used as a fertilizer for plants. However, composting spent grain can create a smelly mess in your backyard if you don’t manage it correctly.

You will have to put down straw or sawdust and then pack the spent grain into bins with hay or straw before adding it to your compost pile.

The decomposition process can also require more water than usual, so you’ll want to ensure that you’re watering regularly so that your garden doesn’t dry out.


Brewing beer has a number of environmental impacts, but there are ways to reduce those impacts. This is why most modern breweries are giving their all in trying to make their breweries eco-friendly.

The most significant environmental issues associated with the operation phase of breweries include water consumption, wastewater, solid waste and by-products, energy use, and emissions into the air.

To produce beer there is often a reliance on water, which is a limited resource. Additionally, wastewater runoff from brewery operations can cause pollution in our waterways if not properly managed.

Solid waste may accumulate if not properly disposed of due to packaging or the production process. Finally, energy use and emissions into the air are major environmental considerations when running a brewery.

Fortunately, there are many things that breweries can do to minimize their environmental impact—such as reducing water usage through recycling processes or implementing more environmentally friendly refrigeration systems—as well as for consumers who brew at home.

Breweries are also looking to reduce their energy use by making several changes like installing solar panels, heat pumps, and ground source heat pumps. These changes help breweries conserve electricity and lower their carbon emissions.


How much water does brewing beer use?

Each gallon of beer will require at least 4 gallons of water to produce. Brewing beer thus requires about six hundred gallons of water per barrel of beer brewed, which is a lot when it’s put into perspective.

How much energy is required to brew beer?

Brewing beer requires a substantial amount of energy. It takes around 10-30 kWh per barrel of production.

What are some ways to reduce the environmental impact of brewing beer?

Some ways to reduce the environmental impact of brewing beer include: recycling spent grains, reusing wastewater in other processes, and reducing packaging materials (use refillable bottles).

What are some ways that breweries can reduce their environmental impact?

Breweries can do many things to reduce their environmental footprint. One way is by recycling their equipment and materials. Using solar panels or wind turbines on the premises also helps reduce emissions from electricity generation. Some breweries have even started to save energy by using less water during the brewing process, recycling coolant and condensing steam rather than letting it escape into the atmosphere as a waste product, and installing low-water toilets and faucets with aerators.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *