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ENJOY | The Green Life

By Avital Binshtock

Drink Responsibly | Trendsetter | High-Grade Goods

On tap: brews that won't give the planet a hangover

Despite a long line of Sierra Club staffers eager to help us rate eco-beers, we decided to let the pros have their say this time. The biggest surprise: There are people who make a living drinking beer.

Maura Burger
SAMUEL MERRITT is New York City's first certified cicerone (beer sommelier) and one of only 134 such specialists in the United States. He's also the founder of Civilization of Beer, a beer education and consulting company.

"My pick is Old Walt Smoked Wit Beer from BLIND BAT BREWERY in Long Island, New York. It's light and refreshing, with citrus and coriander notes and subtle hints of smoke. Owner-brewer Paul Dlugokencky reuses the spent grain to feed livestock and mulch local farms, and he personally distributes his products in a flex-fuel vehicle. Blind Bat is a nanobrewery, the smallest kind of commercial brewery, producing, at most, a few hundred barrels per year." $6 per 22-ounce bottle

Matthew Testa
CHRISTINA PEROZZI, left, and HALLIE BEAUNE, "the Beer Chicks," are beer connoisseurs who cowrote The Naked Pint: An Unadulterated Guide to Craft Beer (Penguin, 2009) and partner with high-profile chefs to host beer-and-food-pairing dinners. Los Angeles magazine named Perozzi L.A.'s best beer sommelier.

"SIERRA NEVADA's Estate Homegrown Ale is a delicious amalgam of the company's West Coast and English India pale ales. Its aromatics are piney, grassy, citrus hops with a waft of grapefruit rind. All the ingredients are grown at the brewery—it doesn't get more local than that. Sierra Nevada is a family-owned microbrewery passionate about reducing its impact on the environment. Every inch of the brewery's rooftop that can support solar panels has them, and all the leftover water gets diverted to an on-site water-treatment facility." $9 per 25-ounce bottle

Courtesy of Kona Brewing Company
RICH TUCCIARONE is the brewmaster at Hawaii's Kona Brewing Company, a solar-powered operation that reduced its bottle weight by 11 percent this year, em-ploys a sustainability coordinator, and produces the certified-organic Oceanic Organic Saison. Tucciarone helps judge the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup.

"LAURELWOOD PUBLIC HOUSE AND BREWERY, in Portland, Oregon, makes Tree Hugger Porter, an excellent roasty ale that I enjoy whenever I'm in the area. This beer has a pronounced malt flavor and an aroma that elicits notes of bittersweet chocolate and fresh-roasted coffee, with just enough hops to round out the body and mouthfeel. This exceptionally tasty brew is certified organic, and Laurelwood's pubs focus on serving predominantly local products. They also compost all their food waste." $4.75 per 22-ounce bottle

Helen Montoya
TRAVIS E. POLING is the coauthor of Beer Across Texas: A Guide to the Brews and Brewmasters of the Lone Star State (Maverick, 2009) and writes the columns "Bottle & Tap" and "Pondered Pint" for the San Antonio Current. He produces beer-themed dinners and works as a beer consultant for restaurants and distributors.

"There are plenty of coffee porters out there, but REAL ALE BREWING COMPANY, in the Texas Hill Country, takes it a step further by using organic, shade-grown, fair-trade coffee from Mexico. Its Coffee Porter is a medium-bodied ale with hints of smoke, bitter, sweet, and chocolate. The 10 percent Munich malt used is organically grown, and the six-pack carriers are made of recycled cardboard. Real Ale recently installed solar panels to heat its water." About $10 per six-pack

James Skovmand
PETER ROWE has been the beer critic for the San Diego Union-Tribune since 1995. His "Pint-Sized Pour" reviews run in the newspaper's entertainment section, and he's the keeper of the blog Brewery Rowe.

"Introducing NEW BELGIUM into the ecofriendly-beer conversation is like shooting sustainable fish in a recyclable barrel—it's a natural. The Fort Collins, Colorado, brewery runs on wind power and encourages employees to commute by bike. In 2007, Mothership Wit became its first certified-organic beer. This spicy wheat brew offers aromas of peaches, pears, and wild blackberries; soft coriander and orange-peel flavors over a firm malt base; and a finish reminiscent of lemon cake." About $8 per six-pack


"Skateboarding is such a small industry that people used to think, 'We're struggling as it is. Who cares about sustainability?'" —Bob Burnquist

Bob Burnquist, professional skateboarder and organic farmer| Jamie Mosberg/Digital Action Sports Network
Fifteen years ago, an unknown skateboarder arrived in the United States from Brazil and began crushing the competition. Bob Burnquist came with a fresh crop of tricks and an appreciation for the environment that was unprecedented for a skater. He went on to cofound the Action Sports Environmental Coalition (ASEC) in 2001 and now runs a small organic farm in Southern California.

Q: How do your environmental views dovetail with your career?

A: I felt I had to connect on some level with my sponsors or else it wouldn't make sense. I've turned down sponsors, like energy drinks, that would have paid a lot of money. Ipath [footwear] has been using hemp for a long time, and Toyota hybrids are a natural fit. I skated a couple of contests on bamboo boards. It's all about being who I am and trying to hold my ground.

Q: Did growing up in Brazil shape your perspective?

A: I was raised in a country that's beautiful, tropical, and diverse, and I'd always eaten fresh food. So there was a culture shock when I came to the U.S. The waste bothered me, and my stomach couldn't handle all the fast food. On [skateboarding] tours, I made supermarket stops instead of eating at fast food places with everybody else.

Q: Describe the farm where you live.

A: I live with my wife and three children on a 12-acre ranch in San Diego County. When I looked at properties, I was thinking, "Quality of living and a skateboard ramp." I have avocado and lemon trees and horses and goats. When nobody is around, I walk around and eat the fruit off the trees. It's pretty soothing.

Q: What have you done to raise environmental awareness in the action-sports world?

A: The ASEC created a "green room" at a surf shop in Laguna Beach with sustainable products. Shoppers don't have to look through each brand to find the few green items; they're centralized in one section. —interview by Sean Mortimer

ON THE WEB To visit Bob Burnquist's farm online, go to

Take back-to-school shopping back to Earth

Costa Rica's TNF Ecopapers makes tree-free notebooks using 80 percent postconsumer waste and 20 percent banana fibers that would otherwise have been trashed. The ruled pages are printed with water-based inks. $7 to $8

These pens and mechanical pencils from Paper Mate look and feel like regular plastic but are made of biodegradable sugar-plant parts. Their packaging is plastic-free and 100 percent recyclable. $1.70 for the pen; $2.70 for the pencil

Students need to stay (a) hydrated and (b) caffeinated. Earthlust keeps bisphenol A (BPA) out of the mix with its stainless steel water bottles and insulated mugs, which are flecked with delicate nature scenes. The family-owned company donates 1 percent of its profits to environmental charities—plus $1 for each of its Facebook fans. $16 to $23

Save money (and cafeteria leftovers and dozens of to-go boxes) with the reusable stainless steel containers from LunchBots. Or relive the thrill of your first day of kindergarten with a vintage Pinky and the Brain lunch box, available on eBay and perhaps at your local thrift store. $13 to $17

Despite its clunky name, the Vaio W Series 212AX Eco Edition from Sony is a sleek laptop. Its plastic exterior is partly derived from cast-off CDs and DVDs, and its carrying case is made of recycled plastic bottles. Other green features include a 10-inch LED screen and a 76-page digital (rather than paper) manual. $500

The hanging organizer from Kangaroom Storage is made entirely of recycled materials and pays tribute to a generation's digital fixation, with its pattern of IM acronyms and emoticons. (OMG!) There's also a matching shower caddy. $17 for the hanging organizer; $8 for the shower caddy

Beer bottle and school product photos by Lori Eanes

This article has been corrected.



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