The climate emergency isn’t the only threat facing our planet. The depletion of our resources is a looming crisis in itself. Water lies at the nexus of these trends as a drier planet also is a hotter planet. Water is critical to life. Some might argue that beer, which is a historical driver of civilization itself, is also important. Creating it, however, takes a lot of water. Brandon Watkins is working to ensure that we can have both in a stainable future.
Matt Carmichael: How do you conserve water when it’s integral to your product and its manufacturing?
Brandon Watkins: A big portion of our usage is in the product. Water makes up 90% to 95% of our ingredients and our beer. The secondary portion of our usage is cleaning — tanks, vessels, pipes and systems to assure we get the highest quality. We focus on “cleaning process optimization.” The first piece is driving process improvements at our facilities. The second piece is really capturing the very good, clean water that we have and reusing it in our process for “non-contact applications” like cooling towers and machine cooling and things of that nature.
Carmichael: As a beer drinker it seems weird to talk about eating beer. Are we steering toward things like astronaut ice cream, but for dehydrated beer?
Watkins: We haven't looked at those options yet. But our innovation space continues to evolve.
Carmichael: How do you prioritize reducing waste versus protecting our natural resources?
Watkins: It works hand in hand because I feel reducing waste means ensuring that we're not using more of our natural resources than we need to produce our products. In many of our communities, we're the largest consumer of our natural resources. So, I think it's our duty to assure that we're utilizing these resources as efficiently as possible.
Carmichael: To what extent are your efforts driven by consumer pressure, and to what extent is it about being better stewards?
Watkins: I'm not sure I call it pressure, but more so our responsibility to assure that we're using our resources as efficiently as possible.