The Blog for Women Who Brew Beer

UVM Paper on Sustainable Beer

Posted by Maggie on March 9, 2011

This is great: a class paper comparing New Belgium and Budweiser beer in light of sustainability.  It can be found at:

I am posting the conclusion below.

Sustainability Report:
Comparison Between New Belgium and Budweiser Beer

University of Vermont

Sustainability Science
Professor Saleem Ali
December 7, 2010

Aaron Caum, Nash Hall, Andrea Haney,
Jackie Lepre, Zach Zimmerma


Ultimately, when comparing the corporate practices of New Belgium brewery to

Budweiser the most important thing to keep in mind is the scale of business in which

each is participating in. Anheuser-Busch spends more on philanthropic efforts because

they make more. As a mega-corporation and a larger controller of the overall market for

alcohol however, they also have a much larger portion of the accountability to consider.

Thus, their main priority is to deflect those opponents who would point to them as

“merchants of addiction” etc. New Belgium recognizes the need to encourage responsible

drinking, but it can be taken for granted to a certain point that those who seek out a craft

brew like theirs drink more for pleasure and quality than for alcohol.

This is reflected in New Belgium’s more direct focus on environmental and social

sustainability as a business. Their open book management and High Involvement Culture

are very successful attempts to improve the well-being of their employees. While the

actual social cost of alcohol consumption can be very high, it would be somewhat

backward to lay the blame for this completely at the feet of the producers of alcohol.

When used properly, alcohol can be benign and even beneficial.

Though New Belgium has made great strides to reduce the environmental impact

of producing their beer, there are undeniable costs associated with the production of the

ingredients and the packaging the finished product is presented in. Interestingly, however,

the highest environmental impact of beer consumption most likely comes during the

“use” phase. “That is how the beer is kept chilled, how it is served, how the drinker gets

to the beer and how they get home” (Watson, 2008). Because of our large dependence on

fossil fuels for transportation and energy, the reductions in greenhouse gases during the

production phase for beer are likely the least of our worries. In the end, drinking

responsibly will come down to more than just the brand one chooses to partake in; it will

require a larger societal shift both in infrastructure and home energy sources.


One Response to “UVM Paper on Sustainable Beer”

  1. Ed Reid said

    Thanks for posting this. I look forward to reading it.

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