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Ashland brew pub joins green beer coalition

In a long drought such as this one, the drive for sustainability takes a different direction, one focused on water — the conservation of it and keeping natural sources of it clean, especially if you’re in the beer-making business.

After a second long, dry winter and very low snowpack, 24 breweries, including Ashland’s Standing Stone Brewing Company, have joined in signing a Brewery Climate Declaration, enabling them to exchange water-saving and energy-saving ideas. 

“With this drought, the price of hops has gone up 250 percent,” says Rachel Koning, Standing Stone’s Event and Social Media Director. “Hops historically have grown very well in the Northwest but they haven’t been adapting well to the climate changes of the past decade, so it’s in our best interest to keep any and all water sources thriving.” 

The Stone has lived on the leading edge of sustainability for many years. Its rooftop solar collectors have been there so long, she notes, that they are fully paid off and they’re seeing a return on investment. 

A newly installed heat recovery system captures excess heat from the cooling system, she adds, and that’s used to preheat water for cooking and other uses in the restaurant. That system will pay itself off in about eight years. 

Drought is a driver for Ashland to raise water rates in summer and such systems allow the Stone to absorb much of that financial impact, she says. 

Of the 24 breweries that have joined the Climate Declaration, eight of them, not surprisingly, are in beer-loving and environment-respecting Oregon, and that, says Koning, tells her “we live in a region where breweries focus on sustainable operations. It’s an opportunity for us to get ideas from each other.” 

One system being modeled by Declaration Member O’Dell Brewery of Colorado is a triple-pump water system that allows them to save 23 million gallons of water a year, she says, adding that eventually the Stone will add that technology. 

A national craft beer convention next month in Portland, she says, will have several classes on brewery sustainability. 

Other practices followed by the Stone are certification that they use “salmon safe hops,” meaning none of the growing practices harm the habitat of streams. Most of their food, she says, has been organically grown for many years.

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

Rachel Koning, Event and Social Media Director for Standing Stone Brewing Company in Ashland, has to help Standing Stone join 23 other breweries across the U.S. to become part of the Brewery Climate Declaration, which pledges to make environmentally conscious operations a priority. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch