You’re not just a brewer, but also an advocate for a whole set of ideas on sustainability.
B: It’s just obnoxious, our enthusiasm, but we want positive creativity to be contagious. When people come in and get inspired and excited, we say “Good.” Someone was telling us about Nelson Brewery going organic, and saying “Oh, now you’re going to have competition,” and I said “No, we’re going to have colleagues, we’re going to have friends.” We were never supposed to be the only certified organic brewery: perhaps we were supposed to be a flagship in a way, but we want to inspire everybody to do that.
Historically, craft brewing was inherently organic before the advent of the chemical compromise of the materials we put into beer. So all these people who are serious about craft brewing, they should consider going back to organic methods of doing things—that’s how it was done for centuries. The chemical stuff actually impedes fermentation as well as being bad for everyone else, so we don’t want to hurt anyone with our process, we want to help people.
And that approach extends to your distribution decisions, as well: you don’t bottle…
B: That’s right, there’s no packaging: we have a zero waste emission system. Glass can be insidious. You can never find it. If we have water going out that’s going to feed our livestock and there’s glass in it, you don’t’ want to do that.
R: The whole packaging issue is pretty intense. To use a different industry, every single-serving bottle of water is taking a huge amount of resources. It’s not hard to buy something in bulk or in a different style of container that can be re-used before it’s recycles.
B: Most people have potable water these days. We wash cars and flush toilets with water that’s already fit to drink.
We don’t have flush toilets on the farm. We use a bucket method. We have compost outside, so we just compost it—not for food, but for other things. The point is, we have this beautiful water on the farm,–it’s a drink unto itself—and when we first moved to the property I almost cried each time I flushed the toilet. (Laughs)
R: (Laughing) Honey, that really doesn’t sound the way you want it to sound!
The concept of putting that down the drain—it’s such a waste. And it was…
How widely available is your beer?
R: We’re available on draft throughout southern BC. We’re looking at increasing distribution, but only in this area.
B: I’m quite happy when people ask me to get to Calgary or points east, there’s a lot of interest in having our beer there. And I said, I’m quite happy to have me come out and help you set up an organic local brewery there, then it’s sustainable. I’m happy to do that, but no, you cannot have our beer.
R: My dad’s thesis was on sugar and corporate control of food internationally, so my pedigree’s pretty strong there.