The first ever ‘sustainability theme issue’ of the SBR
Let’s get it out of the way, in order for us to be able to move on towards more inspiring and positive themes: Yes, our industries, like the rest of our societies, are still suffering heavily from the ongoing restrictions implied by the corona crisis. The picture painted in my lengthy ‘mosaic’ in the previous issue of the SBR on the consequences for our industries and their surroundings has – for better or worse – proven to be correct, even here 4 months further into the crisis. And now we’re looking at steeply increasing numbers of people infected globally, accompanied by an increase in lockdowns and severe restrictions on the on-trade sector. So, the consequences for our industry are far from over, meaning that there’s little point in evaluating these consequences yet. Once – hopefully soon – the crisis has blown over, we will, of course, revert to the topic with an evaluation of the impact on our industries, and the way it will form it into the future.
But regardless of how much the corona crisis might occupy the attention of all of us right now, this does not eliminate the other important challenges we’re facing. These are many, but I think that it’s safe to say that the climate crisis is, by far, the biggest. Although I have no intention of sounding like a brewer version of a hysterical, dystopic and angry Greta Thunberg, I cannot help pointing out that what we all do now and in the coming few years will have a huge impact on the condition of our planet and the living conditions for future generations.
The brewing and soft drinks industries must obviously play their positive role in the global move towards a lower climate impact of their activities, seen in the broadest possible light. So, it is high time for us to devote an issue of the SBR to the theme of sustainability. The brewing process is extremely traditional, to a large extent remaining, in principle, unchanged for thousands of years – a fact that is equally highly appreciated and cherished by our consumers and ourselves. And this presents us with unusually big challenges when it comes to dramatically reducing the CO₂ equivalent emissions arising from brewing. Even if we could theoretically switch to some super high-tech magical technology of mixing a few artificial ingredients and – abracadabra – end up with the perfect beer, my strong belief is that this would be discarded entirely by our consumers. So, the road to carbon neutral brewing will not be one of a few momentous quantum leaps, but rather a multitude of individually small steps that will – slowly but steadily – get us there. Having painted such a pessimistic picture, I’m very pleased to note through my work with editing this issue that there are loads of promising ideas and projects already going on, and that the industries – including our essential suppliers – as a whole are equally enthusiastic, innovative and optimistic in their commitment to not having our industries lacking behind the rest of the world around us.
Our approach to the ‘sustainability theme’ has been to try to source articles shedding light on the topic from as many different angles as possible, given the number of pages available. As your technical editor, I have to say that I’m very happy with the extent to which this objective has been achieved. We start out with an educational article by our regular contributor, Tim O’Rourke, outlining the basics of sustainability as a concept and the overall aspects of the concept in breweries. The Danish Brewers’ Association has shared their plan for carbon neutrality in 2030 with us, and the Swedish Association has contributed with an article on their joint plan with the other important players on the Swedish market for alcoholic beverages. Erlend Vagnild Fuglum, the Director of the Norwegian association answered our call with the message that there is currently no joint plan for sustainability/carbon emission reductions on a national level in Norway, but that the major brewing companies have launched their own plans, and that these are accessible to the public
Also, as part of the sustainability theme, we’re bringing you a long-awaited article on the practical experience with the first installation in a commercial brewery of the highly innovative Ziemann Holvrieka brewing system OMNIUM. This article has significant relevance also seen in a more general light than ‘just’ sustainability, but the savings in energy, time and materials reported to be associated with this new technology certainly justifies our choice.
The article on shortening the mashing process by Christian Andersen not only offers a novel and relevant time and energy saving tool for small breweries, but it also demonstrates a welcome success created by a collaboration between academia, a supplier and a brewery. We’re also proud and happy to bring you an article on the first-ever installation of a CO₂ recovery system– and here even also in-house reuse of the recovered CO2 in their soft drinks production – in a craft brewery, namely the Ørbæk Bryggeri (brewery) on Funen in Denmark. Switching to the supplier side of things, there’s an article on the effect of climate change on Bavarian hops. From the various analyses of the carbon impact of the different aspects of brewery operations, it is clear that the area of packaging and packaging materials is a significant factor. In order to cover this topic, we publish two articles from KHS. One is a more general look into a more sustainable future of secondary packaging, and the other offers a deeper look into the area of recycling of plastics for packaging exemplified by the development and challenges involved in PET recycling – a topic that may sound rather boring, but the article actually offers an easy-to-understand and fascinating insight. From the breweries, we have an article on the change to packaging materials made from recycled plastic at Sinebrychoff in Finland,
On topics not related to our theme, the ‘jewel in the crown’ seen from my chair is the article from my idol, Ina Verstl, of Brauwelt Intl., written specifically for us on the aspect of localism in craft beer. Further, we feature an article about the outlooks for the recently harvested crop of European spring barley. And, as a new element in the topics covered by the SBR, we’re bringing you a portrait of the highly respected Danish Master Brewer William Frank. Having graduated back in the early 1970s, William has unmatched experience as a Master Brewer, having worked many years with both ‘industrial’ brewing and craft beer, and has also, as is becoming more the norm than an exception, worked for a number of years outside of the brewing industry. Returning to the beer world, William was able to bring with him knowledge and experience from his work elsewhere, actually inspiring working with more sustainable processes in brewing.
Finally, a reminder that our offer of free subscriptions to the SBR still stands (go to https://scandbrewrev.dk/subscribe/ and sign up). So, why not tip a few friends about this offer? With more than 150 new subscribers/readers thus far, the success has made us extend this offer to last throughout 2020, and we’re discussing making it permanent with the board of the DBF, our owners in Danish Master Brewers’ Guild.
Please remember that we at the SBR always very strongly encourage you to comment on anything at all in the magazine, incl. the editorial. Please forward your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anders Kissmeyer, Technical Editor
Scandinavian Brewer’s Review