Photos courtesy of Badger State Brewing
The term “wind-powered brewery” conjures an image of old-timey windmills attached to giant steel tanks—Don Quixote meets 2015. Of course, that’s nowhere near how such conservation-minded breweries actually operate (although it’s fun to picture).
Two places claim to be the first wind-powered brewery in the United States: New Belgium, in Fort Collins, Colorado, and Outer Banks Brewing Station, in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. While Outer Banks is visually the more wind-focused of the two—the brewery actually has a wind turbine on site—New Belgium was the first to completely forgo coal-powered electricity in favor of wind energy in 1999.
Those aren’t the only two breweries opting to harness the wind for their electric needs, however. Others include:
- Allagash Brewing Co. – Portland, Maine
- Anheuser-Busch – Fairfield, California (30% of its electricity)
- Brewery Vivant – Grand Rapids, Michigan
- Brooklyn Brewery – New York City
- Carver Brewing Co. – Durango, Colorado
- Full Sail Brewing – Fort Hood, Oregon
- Lakefront Brewery – Milwaukee, Wisconsin (5% of its electricity)
- Uinta Brewing Co. – Salt Lake City, Utah
- Yard Brewing Co. – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
And, at the end of May, Badger State Brewing Co., in Green Bay, Wisconsin, will begin purchasing renewable energy credits (RECs) to offset 100 percent of its energy use*.
Andrew Fabry, president of Badger State Brewing, which opened in late 2013, says sourcing electricity from wind farms was part of his plan from day one. It just took a little time to implement. “All our initial funding and profits went to the expansion,” he says, referring to the brewery’s new taproom, opened in September 2014. “Now we’re putting the energy plan in place.”
Fabry graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison with a degree in pre-law. He had homebrewed with a couple buddies, cousins Sam Yanda and Mike Servi, throughout college, but they’d never talked about opening a brewery. At least not until Fabry brought it up so many times post-graduation, in 2011, that they finally took him seriously. “I moved back to Green Bay after college and wrote the business plan in my free time, in 2011 and 2012,” he says. “I kept telling Mike and Sam we should do it and eventually got them on board. Sam [the head brewer] officially quit his full-time job right before we opened.”
Badger State was distributing their beer in October 2013; in 2014, they’d expanded into a taproom, 10,000 square feet of brewing space, and a 15-barrel system. And now, they’re helping pave the way for breweries looking to shrink their carbon footprint without sacrificing growth or quality.
“It’s an additional cost to our monthly bills, but it’s also an investment,” Fabry says. “By partnering with Acadia Power, who has wind farms across the country, we’re providing the means for their partners to invest in more equipment and new facilities. We’re making it possible for more people to use wind power.”
Badger State will officially be wind-powered starting the end of this month. But wind is just the first step in the brewery’s energy goals. There’s also their large, flat roof and tree-free location—the ideal set-up for solar panels, Fabry says. He’s already started to research the possibilities.
*Editor’s Note (May 27, 10:30am): In a previous version of this story, it was not made clear that Badger State is sourcing renewable energy through the purchase of renewable energy credits (RECs). Badger State is not producing its own wind power on site.