Cradled between a soft white shoreline and the Everglades, Delray Beach is a destination for almost everyone under the sun. To the east, great blue herons live side by side with alligators, and in the west, sea turtles and sharks tumble in the warm saltwater. The small coastal town is packed with fine art and world-class food, but for years there was one thing missing. After quitting his day job on the West Coast, Chris Gove came home to Delray Beach with a plan to start the area’s first microbrewery. Gathering together his childhood friends, all grown up now, they talked about starting a business that combined their reverence for craft beer with their respect for the ocean.
SaltWater Brewery bubbled up out of that meeting, and soon all hands were on deck building a microbrewery from scratch, literally. Their tasting room is finished with reclaimed Dade County pine wood, which the founders cut themselves. As Bo Eaton, head of sales and distribution, told the Palm Beach Post, “Everyone was willing to drop what they were doing to get behind this. Being able to make beer with our best friends and do what we love and try to succeed: Together, we felt confident we could make it happen.” In no time, they were up and running, and their core beers, Screamin’ Reels IPA, Sea Cow Milk Stout, and more, quickly became South Florida favorites. As they perfected their beers, the team at SaltWater also built relationships with local ocean protecting charities Coastal Conservation Association, Surfrider Foundation, Loggerhead MarineLife Center, and Gumbo Limbo. In addition to hosting events for local oceanic causes, Chris Gove told Bond Street, “We also do projects together, like co-clean ups, things of that nature. One night a month in the tasting room we put on a tap that’s dedicated to them, so whatever is drank from that, we give to charity.”
Growing up close to the ocean, the team at SaltWater knew how devastating plastic pollutants like six-pack rings could be for wildlife. Greenpeace estimates that over 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles are killed every year from contact with plastic. So SaltWater Brewery decided to do something about it. They created the first-ever edible six-pack rings by working with New York ad agency WeBelievers and biodegradable material supplier Entelequia. These rings, constructed from leftover barley and wheat from the brewing process, are 100% compostable, but in case they end up in the ocean, they actually feed any animals they might come into contact with. Initially, the fibers used to construct the rings were a hassle, and the brewery struggled to sustainably remove the waste by asking farmers to pick it up, Gove told Bond Street.
This sustainable solution to a common problem not only gave the brewing byproduct a purpose, but it will help stop plastic from polluting the Earth’s oceans. Peter Agardy, Head of Brand at SaltWater Brewery, says, “It’s a big investment for a small brewery created by fisherman, surfers, and people that love the sea.” Their investment seems to be paying off as large breweries like Corona and Guinness start to adopt the use of their eco-rings. As more breweries start utilizing these sustainable six-pack rings, the costs should decrease, and someday soon the dangerous plastic pollutant will no longer get tangled up in the ocean. The best part is that sipping a few pints of SaltWater Brewery’s finest helps keep the seas clean.