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Innovation

Can Brewing Beer Save The Planet?

Photo Courtesy Elevate

A Florida Brewery Implements Carbon Capture Technology  

Byron and Angela Burroughs, owners of Proof Brewing Company, a craft brewery based in Tallahassee, Florida, say their company prides itself on being an industry leader. Their commitment to artisanal brewing methods makes them stand out in their field, but the innovation doesn’t end there. Proof Brewing Company is the first brewery in the state to implement carbon capture technology to reduce carbon emissions.

Photo Courtesy Elevate

Through a partnership with Austin, Texas startup Earthly Labs, Proof Brewing Company has implemented technology that allows them to capture up to 100,000 pounds of CO2 during the brewing process and reuse it to carbonate and package their beer. Developed by Earthly Labs, the “plug-and-play” technology, known as CiCi, was installed at the Florida brewery this past month.

“We are committed to improving our sustainability and carbon footprint for our local community and consumers,” said Byron. “This technology allows us to help our environment but also our commitment to innovation by brewing even better beer.”

Earthly Labs CEO Amy George is also a Floridian and expressed enthusiasm over working with the first brewery in her home state.

Earthly Labs is committed to helping smaller businesses reduce their carbon output (small companies, homes, and transportation make up more than half of all emissions). Their CiCi unit is compact and can be built to accommodate most spaces — and perhaps most importantly, it’s affordable for smaller-scale businesses.

Carbon capture technology is commonplace at larger, industrial brewing facilities. Brewers must purchase CO2 to carbonate and package their beer, and the brewing process tends to release large amounts of carbon.

“Breweries have always been interested in finding a way to mitigate CO2 loss and the cost of having to purchase all of this,” said Josh Hare, founder of Hops and Grain, a brewery in Austin. “But there’s never been anything accessible financially to breweries of our scale [until now].”

Earthly Labs gives smaller breweries access to the same technology as industrial outlets. According to George, the technology both reduces emissions and helps companies cut carbon dioxide costs.

Previously, Hops and Grain was spending $4,000 per month on CO2 to brew their beer, and the gas was released at a rate four times higher than necessary during the brewing process. Burroughs realized his brewery was experiencing the same problem. “We found that we were paying a lot, tens of thousands of dollars a year for CO2 when we actually produce more CO2 than we can actually use in the process,” he said. Both breweries now use CiCi technology and are able to reuse the excess carbon released during the brewing process.

Hops and Grain became Earthly Labs’ first customer, and now other breweries in the Austin area are also using the technology. “This is an opportunity for all of us to really control our own destiny and use the CO2 that we already create,” said one of the founders of Austin Beerworks, the largest independently owned brewery in the city and another Earthly Labs partner. “If you’ve got better CO2 to put in your beer, you’re going to make better beer. It’s just the way it works.”

The “better beer” comes from filtered CO2. The CiCi system filters the carbon produced during the fermentation process, giving brewers a purer carbon than they might have had otherwise.

Photo Courtesy Meritt Thomas

Proof Brewing Company will release a special edition beer made entirely with carbon capture technology. The launch is expected to happen later this summer, details will be posted on their social media. Perhaps discerning drinkers will be able to taste the CO2 difference. In the meantime, Proof Brewing is using recaptured carbon to pour draft beers at their Brewpub.

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