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May 22, 2012

Drink local beer – it’s to help the planet

Last week I had a thought: If eating local is good for the environment, the same must go for drinking local.

Last week I had a thought: If eating local is good for the environment, the same must go for drinking local.

Buying beer brewed a few miles from home instead of something trucked in from across the country can reduce your carbon footprint – less fuel used, fewer fuel emissions. Work with me here – I’m trying to make saving the planet more fun.

Before I decided to recommend this drastic change, I spent a few days touring local breweries and sampling their offerings.

I discovered that these local craft beers are really, really tasty. And going to a brewpub or brewery tasting room can be an extremely enjoyable experience.

Here in Raleigh, we have two full-service restaurants that brew on-site: Boylan Bridge Brewpub and Natty Greene’s Brewing Company. We also have three stand-alone breweries: Big Boss, Lonerider and Roth.

Each brewer offers a selection of year-round beers supplemented by seasonal recipes.

I had been to brewpubs before, but I really didn’t know much about the process of brewing or the different types of beer. And honestly, even though I have spent hours listening to beer guys talk about it, I still don’t know much.

Hundreds take tours

What I do know is that Raleigh has a vibrant beer thing going on. About 500 people turn up every second Saturday of the month to tour the Big Boss Brewing Company. Lonerider and Roth also offer popular tours.

If you’re not interested in the details of the brewing process, just dive right into sampling different beers at any brewery or brewpub.

It is a lot of fun to interact with the beer guys – they are a happy bunch. And they are passionate about their craft.

They include Sumit Vohra, Steve Kramling and Mihir Patel – home brewers who decided to leave their positions at Cisco to start Lonerider so they could do something they love.

As my Big Boss tour guide John Pyrbun said, “We’re brewing the beer that we want to drink.”

I asked Roth Brewing Company CEO Ryan Roth to give me his thoughts on the difference between someone who drinks mass produced beer and the people who savor craft beers.

Roth believes “the difference between a casual beer drinker and a craft beer drinker is that the casual beer drinker hasn’t been introduced to craft beer yet.”

I think he hit the nail on the head. Now that I have been introduced to Natty Greene’s Buckshot Amber Ale with notes of caramel and toffee and the citric and piney notes of Boylan Bridge Brewpub’s Gantlet Golden Ale, I want to taste all of the beers that our local brewers have to offer.

I was disappointed to learn that I have to wait until next winter to experience the Big Operater, a beer that Big Boss brewers infuse with cacao and raspberries. But I am anxiously awaiting the June 2 release of the Roth Brewing Company summer seasonal Valkyrie, which is a traditional German style hefeweizen flavored with red plums and orange blossom honey.

And as if reducing your carbon footprint while enjoying fresh, delicious craft beer and having fun hanging out with happy beer makers isn’t enough, there is one more environmentally friendly aspect to drinking local: growlers.

All of our local breweries and brewpubs sell growlers, which are 64-ounce, take-home jugs that can be filled and refilled with your favorite beer.

The breweries also sell bottles and kegs directly. And although it is much more fun to go to the brewery, Big Boss and Lonerider beer is available wherever you are buying your mass-produced beer now, and Roth beer is available in bottle shops across the state.

Tasty beer, happy people – doing something good for the planet has never been more fun.

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