The world’s first beer was 100% natural, 100% organic, and probably brewed by accident more than 5,000 years ago in southern Babylonia. According to a theory cited by the Beer & Brewing website, grain left out in the rain sprouted. This happy accident led to a natural malting process that created enzymes inside the seeds.
Once discovered, the soggy grain was hustled off to make bread before it got ruined. Heating liquified the enzyme-rich starches into sugars, eventually producing a beer-like beverage.
Since then, beer has taken on many different forms across many different production methods. The current trend, craft brewing, actually borrows from the earliest brewing methods. As the Sustain.Life website noted, craft brewing is built around natural ingredients and small-batch processing, meaning many brewers “feel connected” to environmental health and sustainability.
Photo Courtesy Vulgar Brewing Company
“You’re dealing with ingredients and chemical processes that are very nature-oriented,” Kevin McGee, president and CEO of California-based Anderson Valley Brewing Company, told Sustain.Life in an interview. “So, I don’t think it’s a very far step for people that are in the craft brewing mindset to also get involved in an environmental sustainability mindset.”
That kind of environmental mindset drives much of the business model at Vulgar Brewing Company, a Franklin, NH-based craft brewer with an English vibe specializing in “clean, drinkable beers.”
The “vulgar” part of the business name doesn’t refer to the modern usage of the term but instead is based on the original meaning of “common people” or something “not in the style preferred by the upper classes.”
Photo Courtesy Vuglar Brewing Company
There’s nothing common about Vulgar Brewing’s beer. In March 2023, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) Sustainable Craft Beverage Recognition Program officially recognized the company. The program partners with the New Hampshire Pollution Prevention Program, the New Hampshire Brewers Association, the NH Electric Co-op, and other organizations to assist breweries, wineries, distilleries, meaderies, cideries, and hard seltzer producers.
Among the areas they provide guidance in are minimizing the use of natural resources, providing a safer work environment, and creating a culture of sustainability. Vulgar Brewing was recognized for using local ingredients and a sustainable brewing process.
As the NHDES reported on its website, Vulgar uses an “age-old process” called “spunding” to make its products. In spunding, carbon dioxide (CO2) — naturally released by yeast — is gathered to add natural carbonation to the beer. With this process, the brew is ready for packaging without adding outside CO2 for carbonation.
Photo Courtesy Vulgar Brewing Company
That’s an important environmental consideration, considering that CO2 is expensive and often has to be shipped a long way over trucks for delivery to breweries — something that produces even more carbon emissions. With spunding, it also takes less time to make the beer, which is a more efficient and eco-friendly way of doing things.
The NHDES also pointed out Vulgar Brewing’s other sustainable practices, including using all LED lighting, reusing cleaning chemicals and hot water, and using an on-demand hot water heater. The brewery is located in a refurbished space that once housed the town stables.
The company was founded in 2018 by Jason and Shelly Harrington and Damon and Megan Lewis, who met in a homebrew club while living in Texas.
According to the brewery website, the foursome found they were “kindred spirits” who shared a passion for beer and food and were “a little nerdy and vulgar.”
Photo Courtesy NH Department of Environmental Services
Jason and Damon were experienced home brewers who took home various awards and worked for other brewers before starting their own company. Vulgar Brewing puts a strong emphasis not only on sustainability but also on serving as a “hub and gathering place” for the local community.
“We love how a craft brewery brings a community together,” the company website says. “It is how the four of us met, and we have built many close relationships over the years through the power of brewing.”