By Sam Wheeler
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Sustainability and turning out top-notch craft beer and food are the cornerstones of Standing Stone Brewing Company, but the Ashland-based brewery’s commitment to lessening its footprint goes far beyond the beer.
Last March, Standing Stone was joined by seven Oregon breweries and 16 others from across the country in signing the Brewery Climate Declaration, an effort to shed light on the opportunity for innovation in sustainable brewing and a call to action for the entire industry.
“It’s so encouraging to say, ‘Hey, we’re a part of this brewing industry, and as a whole people are doing really awesome things,” said Rachel Koning, the brewery’s event and social media director.
A large part of the accord is different breweries sharing the innovative avenues they have taken on their own commitment to sustainability.
Take Bend’s Deschutes Brewery as an example, which was one of the first breweries that measured its greenhouse gases by Global Reporting Initiative standards and then made that data available to the public. Deschutes has also made a commitment to purchase only renewable energy for its operations.
Like Eugene’s Ninkasi Brewing Company, Standing Stone boasts a solar array atop its Ashland building. The solar panels were an early investment in sustainability for the brewery and have now paid for themselves, generating about 5 percent of the brewery and restaurant’s electricity.
“In the eight years I’ve been here, it’s been really fun to see all of the programs that keep developing,” Koning said.
Around 2009, the brewery’s former owners Danielle and Alex Amarotico, initiated a program that has ended up providing 75 of their employees with Kona bicycles for riding to work. Employees put down a deposit of about $500 on the bike and once they’ve come to work 45 times on it, the business returns their deposit and the employee keeps the bike.
But by far the largest piece of the sustainability promise at Standing Stone is the result of its 260-acre farm just outside Ashland.
“They’re all grass fed,” said Michael Smelser, pointing at One Mile Farm’s herd.
Smelser is Standings Stone’s farm manager and a restaurant server. He feeds your food. In early April, he was busy taking care of several newborn lambs at the farm.
“We use the farm to raise our cattle for the restaurant, as well as our lamb. Another big piece of that is composting. We compost all of our pre- and post-consumer waste out there. Literally truck loads,” Koning said. “That has been such an awesome close on the loop for food.”
And even some of the brewing, as all of the brewery’s spent grain is turned into feed for the farm animals.
Its ideas like One Mile Farm that Koning sees as the importance of breweries across the country banding together for the purpose of achieving a higher level of sustainable business. The Brewery Climate Declaration was launched by Ceres, a nonprofit advocacy organization, and Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy.
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