Waste Management

From crafting sustainability to crafting beer

If you have never tried a beer from Stone Brewing Company, you have no idea what you're missing. The company is well known for its flavors and support of the brewing culture, but the 19-year-old Escondido, Calif., craft brewery is also innovating in sustainability in ways that the big guys often have overlooked.

At GreenBiz Forum 2015 in Phoenix, Ariz., GreenBiz's John Davies talked with Pat Tiernan, Stone's chief operating officer, about what the company is doing in the sustainability space. And naturally, they talked over one of Stone's hoppy brews.

Tiernan has a resume that includes the likes of Hewlett-Packard and the World Wildlife Fund. He brought his skills to the U.S.'s ninth largest brewery that will brew 390,000 barrels this year.

"To me, sustainability is just a toolset that I learned. There are things that if you don't do, you're just stupid," Tiernan said.

Davies asked what Stone's water to beer ratio was, saying "You can't brew beer without water."

Tiernan had a longer answer about what the company is doing to save water.

"Our target is 2.4, which I know a lot of people in the industry sort of laugh at a little bit. But three months last year we hit 2.8," he said. "We run right now between about 3 and 3.5. That's really because we're a process business, but there's a lot of things left to be done that are on my plate so that we're consistent and predictable in terms of the operation."

Tiernan says that the company reduced water consumption and waste by optimizing the cleaning of equipment and by taking care of their own waste.

"The company has invested heavily since well before I got there on their wastewater treatment plant. They've done some pretty unique things there as well," he said.

One of those things is taking some of that "waste" water and selling it to local municipalities in San Diego County. The cities use the water rich in organics and oxygen to give a boost to compost heaps.

Water isn't the only waste that finds another use. Used grains are repurposed as animal feed for dairies and other agricultural purposes.

"Nothing goes to landfill," Tiernan said.

That's something to drink to.