A good brew starts with great water, and here in Hood River, pure water literally flows from the springs on Mt. Hood. Still, we take great care to conserve this valuable resource and have taken steps that have reduced our water consumption by about 4.1 million gallons a year.
We have always had a low water use ratio but in 2011 we installed a Meura mash filter which reduced our water use by a million gallons. This equipment minimizes water usage while maximizing malt’s extract potential to produce a more efficient, consistent and high quality craft beer. As a result, our brewery has one of the lowest water use to beer production ratios in the industry. While a typical brewery uses 6 to 8 gallons of water to brew a gallon of beer, we’ve reduced our water use to less than 3 gallons. Even Oregon farmers and dairy cows are beneficiaries as we recycle tons of spent grain and yeast solids annually back to local dairy farmers for feed. The mash filter produces drier more viable spent grain that makes for better cow feed and reduces the number of spent grain truck runs to the pastures by over 70 per year. Click here to view a video on our water usage.
In addition, we operate a hot-water recovery system that recaptures hot water for reuse in the brewhouse and reduces our water consumption by approximately 3.1 million gallons per year. We’ve reduced the spray nozzle apertures on bottle and keg washers to reduce water consumption. We added a glycol chiller in tandem with our heat exchanger to reduce cooling water use.
But the Big Kahuna of our water conservation program – and a benefit to our entire community – is our own bona fide, voluntary water treatment plant. This system reduces the loading to the municipal treatment plant by pretreating the organic content. We recycle the biosolids from our treatment plant by giving them to local farmers and orchardists who use them for soil amendment and fertilizer instead of consuming landfill capacity. In-house employees are dedicated to the management of this system.
It’s our home-away-from-home, a magnificent generator of liquid gold. Soon after we laid eyes on the former cannery building, we set out to recycle and reclaim whatever materials we could. Inside, we hum with efficiency; everything from utilizing energy conservation measures to compressing our work week into four very productive days, which helps reduce water and energy consumption by 20 percent. It also reduces the amount of driving employees have to do and allows them to have a three-day weekend every week!
The Full Sail story started in 1987 when we stood in the abandoned Diamond Fruit Cannery – overlooking Hood River and beyond it the mighty Columbia River – and envisioned big stainless steel vats, the scent of barley, and employees who were obsessed with making the best brews in the country.
The old, dilapidated Technicolor cannery – practically frozen in time (circa 1972) – really needed some major work. But, instead of simply plowing and dumping, we recycled and renovated the parts of the building that were reclaimable. Not only are we proud of these efforts — and the resulting brewery — we also like to look back and remember this decision as the foundation for all sustainable business practices to come.
Over the years we’ve learned a lot more about efficiency and conservation, and implemented the latest technologies and practices for saving energy: We replaced metal halide light fixtures with energy-efficient compact fluorescent light fixtures to help reduce energy use by 2.1 percent. The lights give off less heat, which reduces the cooling load, and last longer than halogen lamps. We installed a new 50 hp premium efficiency air compressor motor and a 3,000 gallon air receiver tank to reduce electrical usage. Compressor efficiencies improved 63 percent and overall plant electrical consumption dropped 21 percent. That’s an annual reduction of 400,000 kWh of electricity.
Sustainability means, in a nutshell, to use your resources wisely, preserving them for future generations. Here at Full Sail, we do our best to be stewards of the good things that go into our beer: water, yeast, and fresh hops and barley that hasn’t traveled far enough to qualify for frequent flyer miles.
Our beers contain no stimulants, no sugars, no high-fructose corn syrup, no preservatives, no fluoride, and no animal products are used. Our farmers plant non-GMO varieties for our hops and malt so you can enjoy with confidence!
The good farmers of the Northwest supply us with local ingredients for our Northwest-style ales and lagers. 99 percent of our ingredients come almost right from our own backyard – that’s a lot fewer miles traveled and a lot of carbon emissions kept out of our air. Our yeast – another essential ingredient of a world-class brew – is propagated right here in our own brewhouse. And our water, from a spring on Mt. Hood. Let’s face it, without this heavenly environment, there would be no heavenly brews.
Finally, at the end of a long day, when visitors sit down in our Brew Pub for a beer, they’re enjoying local cheeses, free-range meats, organic greens and fruits and local coffees.
As much as we’re stoked about making award-winning brews, we’re equally driven to reduce the amount of waste and pollution that comes from running our brewery. We believe Hood River should be associated with blue skies, a mighty blue river, green forests and lush farmland as far as the eye can see – not landfills full of sludge, paper, wood and glass.
Reclaiming waste starts with the brew process. Many years ago, we installed a sustainable filtration system that uses centrifugal force to filter our beer, instead of the traditional diatomaceous earth filters. That way, the pure yeast solids left over from the filtration process can be recycled as feed. Those yeast solids – about 1,248 tons annually –are added to about 4,160 tons of spent grain that is left over from the brew process, and it’s all reused to feed Northwest dairy cows. Happy cows make happy milk right? So we proudly serve these Oregon dairy products in our Pub.
Now, while our beer is a one-of-a-kind original, our bottles and packaging have been around the block a time or two. Our glass is made locally and is made from recycled glass. We use 100% recycled paperboard on our packaging. In fact, we were one of the front-runners in our industry to commit to the long-term purchase of recycled paper for our packaging, which in turn made it more affordable for other breweries to follow suit.
Throughout the company, we recycle everything we can and use recycled products whenever possible. We recycle cardboard, glass, plastics, metal, stretch wrap, wooden pallets, paper, water, bio-solids, spent grain and yeast. To meet bulk recycling requirements for waste materials removal, we installed a shrink wrap baler, a cardboard baler and a glass crusher.
We’re a community of people committed to brewing world-class beer sustainably. And, well, it’s amazing what a sense of community does for the soul. Our culture attracts employees who are socially and environmentally conscious. As much as we love our beer, we love our community, and it’s the inspiration for our sustainability efforts. All of us feel like we’ve truly found our calling in life – the balance of work, life, family and friends makes life worth living.
So we take this inspiration to our community in many different ways. To help our environment, we purchase 140 blocks of Blue Sky every month, which allows us to match our energy usage to new wind power resources around the region. In a 12-month period, this reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 168 tons, which has the environmental benefit of not driving 2,900 round trips to Portland from Hood River, or the equivalent of planting 33,000 trees. We also inspire others to participate in the program by displaying Blue Sky signage throughout the brewery.
Our practices also shape the behaviors of those around us. Full Sail was a founding member of the Hood River Chamber of Commerce’s Green Smart program, and one of our own employees served as a community advisor for the initial development of the program. The goal of Green Smart is to help businesses and organizations within the Hood River watershed increase their productivity and profitability by improving resource efficiency and by reducing waste and pollution. The very successful Hood River Re-Build It Center is an offshoot of Green Smart.
Finally, Full Sail supports over 300 organizations, events and charities each year, with a focus on those in our local area. Our ultimate goal is to generate, distribute and sell the greatest ales and lagers anywhere, and have fun doing it. Whether it’s Amber in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, or IPA on tap at the local pub, choose it because it’s the best beer you can drink – and know that there are sustainable practices behind it. Cheers!