Founded on old-world brewing traditions and Californian ingenuity, Firestone Walker has always been committed to making the next beer better than the last. The concept of “reuse, repurpose and recycle” comes naturally to a brewery that crafted its first batch using converted winemaking equipment here on the Central Coast.
Just as brewers throughout the ages have toiled to create beer using resources close at hand, we continually strive to fine-tune our operations so that we can create world-class brews in a beautiful locale for generations to come.
Our Sustainability Report was researched and reported by our co-founder’s daughter, Georgie Walker, in July 2018.
Not wanting anything to go to waste, we divert as much from the landfill as possible through the recycling, reusing, and repurposing of excess material and equipment.
Our spent grains and yeast are converted to feed for local livestock. Additionally, we have most supplies delivered in bulk–including grain, bottles, and cans—which cuts down on incoming materials waste. Our processed plastics, aluminum, glass, and cardboard are 100 percent recycled. We also aim to minimize waste throughout distribution by streamlining packaging, removing excessive cardboard and plastic, and maintaining our fleet of steel kegs that are reclaimed and maintained in-house.
An essential part of our waste program is The Boneyard– an area devoted to the storage of old equipment that is repurposed in various projects. For example, an old whirlpool has been transformed into seating at our Venice location. Similarly, we use reclaimed city water tanks at our wastewater treatment facility.
We minimize energy use throughout each step of our operation, be it electricity, natural gas, or fuel. In the brewhouse, all of our tanks are insulated, and all motors are demand-controlled. We utilize kettle steam recovery systems that save energy as well as water, and we also recover energy by capturing heat during the wort cooling process. LED lighting located throughout the campus increases energy efficiency by 75 percent. Additionally, our new warehouse is energy efficient thanks to its highly reflective roof, leading-edge insulation; electric forklifts; and efforts to ship by rail when possible.
Buildout is now underway, for a solar array that is slated to be up and running by the end of the year. The 2.1-megawatt array—which is being built in collaboration with REC Solar—features ground-mounted single-axis trackers that maximize solar energy capture. It is projected to generate 4,570 MWh (megawatt hours) of electricity each year.
The 9.7-acre solar array is located on Firestone Walker land adjacent to the brewery. A second, smaller 277-kilowatt solar installation will occupy a parking shade structure spanning 14,000 square feet just south of the brewery.
— David Walker
Whenever we can reduce our carbon footprint we are going to do so, and using sunshine to fuel our brewery is a simple way for us to participate.
As Californians, we understand how vital water is to the landscape and our community. For this reason, our brewhouse employs techniques to ensure that this resource is used sparingly throughout each stage of the brewing process. Recycling weak wort allows us to save two to three thousand gallons of water per turn. Recovering condensate from steam enables us to apply that energy toward heating other kettles. Additionally, “clean-in-place” programs and water recirculating during filtration further reduce our level of water consumption. As our skilled brewers strive to optimize each step of the brewing process, we continue to seek new ways to conserve this precious resource.
WASTEWATER TREATMENT FACILITY
In 2015 we installed a water treatment facility on campus to process our flowing water, thus benefiting our local utilities and community. We work to recover small amounts of wastewater, about 10,000 gallons per week. The remainder is processed, separating out the fine organic material and leaving the water acceptable for delivery back into the city’s wastewater infrastructure. This facility also provides up to 65 KW of energy through anaerobic digestion.