Happy Earth Day

Happy Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! Or, Hoppy Earth Day. 2017 marks the 47th anniversary of Earth Day. Yep, it all started in 1970.  Seems like yesterday. Maybe not.

Earth Day was proposed in 1969 by peace activist John McConnell at a UNESCO conference in San Francisco. McConnell’s idea was to set aside a day on which to honor the Earth and promote peace. Two very good ideas. Sign me up.

McConnell’s idea of an Earth Day was sanctioned in a UN proclamation signed by the UN Secretary General U Thant. The first celebration – an international one — was March 21, 1970, the vernal equinox. A second celebration – a national observance in the United States – was April 22, 1970. The celebration in the USA , founded by US Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-Wisconsin), involved environmental teach-ins across the country. US President Clinton awarded Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award in 1995 for his work on behalf of the environment.

Earth Day is now celebrated each and every April 22 across the globe. At last count more than 193 countries observe Earth Day.

End of civics lesson. You have every right to ask where this is going. Ask away. Toward beer, where else?

It turns out that Earth Day and good beer go hand in hand. Your local brewery loves the earth in countless ways. Some of the green practices employed by breweries include heat recovery systems on boilers and kettles, recapturing and reusing CO2, the use of vapor condenser heat exchangers, adjusting the pH levels of waste water before returning it to the city, water conservation to reduce usage, and using spent grain for composting or to feed livestock (if you see a smile on local livestock you now know why). This list of green practices could literally go on and on. Thanks brewers for loving our Earth. The Earth loves you, too, and so do we.

In our beloved commonwealth, the organization Virginia Green is a statewide program that works to reduce the environmental impacts of Virginia’s tourism industry, including breweries. Virginia Green is a program of Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality. I first learned about Virginia Green through Winchester brewer Bonnie Landy of Winchester Brew Works. Thanks, Bonnie. (By the way, Bonnie’s Little Schloss is a fabulous beer. It’s a dry stout.)

Any guess as to who the green brewer of the year for 2016 was? It was Wild Wolf Brewing Company of Nellysford. Hooray for WWBC. Keep up the green work.

There are currently nearly 20 green breweries in Virginia. They are Alewerks, Bad Wolf, Blue Mountain, Caboose, Center of the Universe, Coelacanth, Winchester’s own Escutheon, Hardywood, Lickinghole, Mad Horse, Port City, Redbeard, and Rip Rap. Each of these breweries recycle and reduce wastes, minimize the use of disposable products, and use water and energy efficiently.

If you click on the beer tab of the Hop Blossom website and peruse the nearly 40 breweries that will be at our 2017 festival on June 10, you will notice that many of these fine green breweries will be pouring. It can’t get better than that. What a wonderful thing – drinking a great craft beer as an expression of love for the Earth. I’m in.


-Dan McCoig

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