The craft beer industry in Indiana has been synonymous with sustainability since John Hill opened Indiana’s first brewpub, Broad Ripple Brewpub, in 1990.
Throughout 2012, Indiana Living Green will report on the diverse methods of ‘brewing green,’ region by region. These practices include using locally sourced ingredients, packaging materials and brand merchandise, while giving spent grains, the cracked barley or wheat kernels left after being infused with hot water, to local farmers for re-use.
Other steps are often taken to cause the least carbon imprint. Old buildings are renovated, neighborhoods are rejuvenated and memorabilia is reused as décor.
Three Floyds, consistently lauded by Ratebeer as #1 nationally for the quality of their brews, equally has been in the forefront of good stewardship since its modest 1996 opening in Hammond as a small, family-owned distribution brewery. The move to Munster in 2000 signaled growth and led to opening their pub in 2006, including planting a one-acre garden.
“The patriarch of the brewery, Dr. Michael Floyd, and the kitchen staff plan out herbs and vegetables for use in the pub,” says brewer Andrew Mason. The intent is to have “ultra fresh ingredients that we have total control over in their growth and harvesting.”
The rest of the ingredients come from area farmers. The changing daily menu reflects what is seasonally available.
Like other Indiana brewpubs, Three Floyds integrates its brews into food preparation, noted especially for a liver dish marinated in their robust Scottish ale “Robert the Bruce” and for their unique “Hops for Hams.”
“We typically use unfermented beer or wort as a marinade because of the high sugar content,” explains Mason. “The kitchen cures whole hams using different rubs and spices. In this instance they pack a ham in salt, sugar and hops to impart a special flavor to the finished ‘prosciutto’ type ham.”
Crown Brewing, which opened in 2008 in Crown Point, might be operating in Indiana’s most “infamous” historic building — the old boiler house of Lake County’s former jail, which gained notoriety as the place from which John Dillinger escaped on March 3, 1934, thus providing the setting for the 2009 film Public Enemies, starring Johnny Depp.
A unique practice by Crown Brewing is that while most spent grain across Indiana is given for raising livestock, theirs is used by a neighboring farmer to feed chickens and by vegetable growers in the St. John area as fertilizer. Brewer Steve Mazylewski describes the advantage: “Most fertilizer is manure-based so seeds are in poop. Grain is 100% organic so using spent grain as mulch in gardening helps to eliminate weeds.”
Crown Brewing purchases honey from Ron Brooks, a beekeeper in Portage, and like a host of other brewers is growing hops to supplement what comes from outside Indiana.
Locally sourced well water close to the banks of the Wabash River is a cornerstone of Chris Johnson’s philosophy of brewing. People’s Brewing Company opened in 2010 in an old warehouse near downtown Lafayette as a production brewery, featuring north German-style beers. Since water is about 90% of a beer’s ingredients, Johnson crafts his to fit the hard water readily available. No energy is wasted changing it.
“Lafayette has very good brewing water, hard and full of good minerals,” states Johnson. “Local water can produce a very distinctive taste that is found in all beers from that area.”
Johnson adds: “We work with Purdue Student Farm. They take our trub (spent hops, proteins, etc. from the boiler kettle) for composting in their sustainable gardens. We started this practice of removing our trub to keep organics out of the city sewer. Spent mash goes to a local pig farmer “in trade for an occasional partypig.”
People’s adds another local twist by using lemon grass from a local farmer at Lafayette’s Farmer’s Market to give “a very clean, crisp, subtle character with a hint of lemon to Farmer’s Daughter Wheat Ale.”