Eel River Brewing Company not only works hard to make the best craft beer out there, but we care about our impact on the environment and strive for sustainability. What started with brewing strictly organic beer has moved into using recycled materials for promotional items, sourcing products and ingredients locally, using renewable energy, recycling our spent grain and installing a water pre-treatment facility on site at our brewery. For more information, click on the topics below to expand.
What does it mean to be "organic"?
According to the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) organic food is “produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones."
Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations (USDA).
What does it mean to be “certified organic”?
The California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) explains that “before a product can be labeled ‘organic,’ a USDA accredited certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified and inspected also.”
Up until 2000, organic farmers and producers were required only to register with the state. They were not necessarily certified by a third party, and may never even have been inspected. However, the new Federal Standards released in December 2000 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture require that all foods labeled “organic” must be certified by a third party certifier such as CCOF. This means that you have a more accurate picture of the products that you are buying and that if it bears the CCOF Certified Organic logo, you know that the product you are getting has been inspected and is organic. In fact, to label your product with both the USDA and CCOF Certified Organic logos, your product must be at least 95% organic.
Eel River Brewing Company is the first certified organic brewery in the country. “We are committed to maintaining high quality brewing standards while providing the best tasting organic brews for our customers,” said co-owner Margaret Frigon. “When our Certified Organic Porter received the distinction of being ‘DRAFT’s highest rated porter of 2007 – organic or otherwise’ in DRAFT Magazine March/April 2007, we knew our hard work was paying off,” continued Margaret. “We want to make the best beer, period.”
Eel River Brewing Company strives to buy all ingredients and materials as locally as possible to reduce the pollution and adverse effects on the environment that is created by shipping over long distances.
Ingredients - In addition to water, beer is made up of three ingredients: hops, malt and yeast. Eel River Brewing Company buys most of their hops from the Pacific Northwest United States and over 95% of their malt comes only a couple hundred miles away from Oregon. The yeast is the same yeast that has been used by Eel River Brewing Company for the last 13 years and is regularly checked to make sure that it's healthy.
Materials - Packaging and promotional items are both made from recycled materials. The ERB tap handles are made from reclaimed wood and all paper packaging is made with recycled materials and printed with soy-based inks.
Spent grain from the brewing process is used to feed Eel River Brewing Company’s local, organic cattle that are in turn sold as organic beef at the Eel River Brewing Company brewpub in Fortuna, CA. This reduces waste by providing a use for what would otherwise be thrown away while making another organic product. While many other breweries give or sell their spent grain to a third part, Eel River Brewing Company uses the spent grain for their own cattle. This means that travel is reduced considerably (we aren’t shipping the grain across the country or even the state) and that our cattle is fed with the most fresh and nutritious grains.
WATER PRE-TREATMENT FACILITY
On site at the brewery, a waste water pre-treatment facility filters out waste from the brewing process, which eases the strain that would otherwise be put on the water treatment center in town.
Earth Day, April 22nd, is the chance for everyone to make personal commitments to sustainability that lead to a larger, collective action. Eel River Brewing Co. has made the commitment to sustainability by brewing only organic beers using sustainable practices. Although ERB encourages people to live sustainably year round, Eel River Brewing Company uses Earth Day to encourage people take the small steps needed to reach a higher level of sustainability. Live well, drink better.