No, this isn’t a post about idiots adding green dye to beer for Paddy’s Day. It’s about ethics, and how beer geeks are in denial about the environmental impact of brewing. I’ve pondered this before as part of the wider “food miles” debate, and my consciousness was raised again by an article from the Matador Network. I like to consider myself environmentally friendly; I certainly recycle and walk wherever possible. Token gestures maybe, but collectively important. I’ve been known to fly to Glasgow for £30, however, convenience overriding principles, and if I reflect, the same is true when it comes to my favourite hobby, beer. I like to drink local – but it’s got nothing to do with provenance, rather it’s about supporting local independent businesses. My go-to beer is hoppy US style pales and IPAs, which I persist in drinking despite warnings of hop shortages, droughts and the carbon footprint involved in importing American and other new world hops. Further research brought me to this report, highlighting other areas of concern for the socially aware beer drinker (ignore the nonsense about sensible drinking limits).
So what is the solution? To only drink beer with ingredients sourced in the UK? No thanks, I’m too selfish to place such restrictions on myself. Buy more beer from environmentally conscious breweries like Purity Brewing Co.? Again, I’m too selfish. There are sacrifices in life I’m not willing to make, and beer is one of those. Instead I’ll find a way to offset the impact of my beer consumption, which will also conveniently assuage my guilt. It seems a debate no one wants to have in the beer world, and for selfish reasons I’m okay with that. Kind of.