In its 25th anniversary year, Firestone Walker Brewing Company is showing no signs of slowing down or resting on its laurels. In fact, the brewery embraces the spirit of Earth Day by doubling its passion for sustainability that will help define its beers for decades to come.
“After 25 years, we still believe we can build a brewery of the future,” says co-founder Adam Firestone.
Indeed, in recent years, Firestone Walker has tacitly stepped up its sustainability efforts under the motto “Brewing for Tomorrow”. Those initiatives took a big step forward earlier this year with the introduction of the brewery's new 9.7 acre solar array, one of the largest on-site solar arrays in the craft beer industry.
Solar powered beer
Firestone Walker's new solar system ensures that the majority of the brewery's beer is now made in California sunshine. The array offsets more than 3,000 tons of carbon emissions annually, the equivalent of the carbon sequestrated by 4,220 acres of mature woodland.
“California's Central Coast has been our home for several generations. We have a love for this place and are committed to treating it as best we can, ”says co-founder David Walker. “Solar energy gives us another reason to smile.”
Taken together, Firestone Walker's solar array is sufficient to offset 3,231 tons of carbon emissions annually and match the carbon sequestrated by 4,220 acres of mature US woodland.
Conservation & innovation
Firestone Walker's sustainability efforts include comprehensive protective measures. For example, advanced recovery systems now allow boiler steam to be captured and reused to heat wort, further reducing the consumption of natural gas and electricity. The brewery's process water is treated on site and fed back into the local aquifer. Firestone Walker also uses specialized equipment, loop systems and engineering strategies to save and reuse water.
“Brewers have tried to save energy for centuries,” says Firestone. “The mindset isn't new, but we now have the tools and technology to make profits like never before.”
However, some of Firestone Walker's sustainability efforts are downright low tech. Spent grains from the brewing process are converted into feed for local livestock. Discarded tanks and other devices in the “Boneyard” brewery are being converted into usable items such as cabins for taproom restaurant seating.
Beer with fame
With all of its sustainability investments, Firestone Walker remains focused on maintaining its excellent reputation for quality, which has earned the brewery numerous titles in the world's most prestigious beer competitions.
“We've always stuck to one thing: getting the beer right,” says Firestone.
Adds Walker, “Our motto is ‘beer before fame' – an awkward collection of words that simply remind us that if we take care of the beer, the rest will follow. I believe our focus on beer culture will continue to keep us grounded and give us meaning for the next 25 years. ”