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Green Geek Beer 195

DigiDave writes "A time honored tradition on St Patty's Day is to drink green beer. But some breweries go out of their way to make sure that the brewskies we drink are always green, by using environmentally friendly brewing methods. The makers of Fat Tire, for example, use a cogeneration process that involves anaerobic bacteria turning wastewater into methane gas for power."
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Green Geek Beer

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 18, 2006 @04:31AM (#14947190)
    St. Paddy's was yesterday.
  • St Patty's day (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mark2003 ( 632879 ) on Saturday March 18, 2006 @04:34AM (#14947197)
    St Patty?

    Maybe someone is still struggling after a few too many beers?

    I'm not sure I would call this a time honoured tradition either - I'd never even heard of green beer until I went to the US. I'd never seen it either in Ireland or any of the Irish (and I mean real Irish pubs in Kilburn owned by Irish landlords full of first generation Irish people or Irish people working temporarily in London) pubs in the UK I've been to on St Patricks day.
  • Re:St Patty's day (Score:-1, Insightful)

    by Erchie ( 103202 ) on Saturday March 18, 2006 @04:48AM (#14947220)
    Take it from an Irishman-- no fucking mick with his balls still intact would ever drink GREEN beer. It's either stout, or Harps (or insert your own local Irish pub on-tap beer here, countrymen) or nothing at all (unless of course, it's Irish whisky). Eire go brach! Furthermore, there are those who think Bush is of Irish descent-- well, if any ancestor of Mr. Bush came from Ireland, they were probably exported to another country to make bacon or ham. When are you Yanks going to do the same to Mr. Bush? Isn't it time yet? What a wanker!
  • by rm999 ( 775449 ) on Saturday March 18, 2006 @05:25AM (#14947282)
    I agree with you, but just so you know:
    "Patty is short for Patricia. Paddy is short for Patrick"
    is not the most intuitive statement in the world :)
  • Re:Fat Tire (Score:5, Insightful)

    by paeanblack ( 191171 ) on Saturday March 18, 2006 @06:53AM (#14947404)
    While the mass produced crap deserves it's repuation as being better after urination than before

    I brew my own but also drink that "mass produced crap". I used to be a beer snob, but over the years, I've learn that that "crap" has alot going for it.

    -I can get it anywhere...any country, any state, any town I'm in, and I don't even need to ask. I know they have it.
    -Usually, I'm really just looking for something cold and wet.
    -Usually, the beer is just an accessory to the journey; it's not the destination. I'm more interesting in what's going on around me.
    -It is still booze. After a few drinks, it doesn't matter what you are drinking.

    and most importantly...

    -Mass produced beers don't attract a gaggle of shallow buffoons that judge people by what they drink.
  • Re:Fat Tire (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Bing Tsher E ( 943915 ) on Saturday March 18, 2006 @08:42AM (#14947629) Journal

    -Mass produced beers don't attract a gaggle of shallow buffoons that judge people by what they drink.

    It's better than that. 'Mass produced' beers repel that type of cretin.
  • But... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by demonlapin ( 527802 ) on Saturday March 18, 2006 @09:03AM (#14947689) Homepage Journal
    Much is made here of how "green" they are to use wind power. Unfortunately energy, like money and oil, is fungible.

    It is quite easy to say that you only use type X of a commodity - whether it's wind power for your electricity, non-(country of choice) oil for your gasoline, or lottery money for your state's education budget. It doesn't change the fact that everyone ELSE out there doesn't care what your source is - in the aggregate, the total amount of stuff is essentially not affected by you.

    Short version: just because Bklyn Brewery uses "only wind power" doesn't mean they've affected total fossil fuel consumption a whit, because any deficit between (total wind power produced) and (total power needed) will be made up by fossil or nuclear, whether the BB chooses to pay extra or not. IOW, Con Ed has chosen to use wind for a certain amount of generating capacity. Since it's very cheap energy when it's flowing, they'd be foolish not to use it anyway to lower the amount of fossil or nuclear they need to use. All this amounts to is having consumers subsidize Con Ed's bottom line. Fine if you want to do it, but don't think it's doing the world some great favor. (The wastewater item is completely different. That is a meaningful Green idea, because it uses locally made, locally available resources to extract something valuable and reduce pollution at the same time.)

  • Not so green! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cdn-programmer ( 468978 ) <(ten.cigolarret) (ta) (rret)> on Saturday March 18, 2006 @11:25AM (#14948090)
    First off the malting barley is probably not organic. Even if it is organic, it is farmed with tractors driven by petrol. I have yet to see a commercial farm tractor or combine for that matter driven by a non-oil fuel source. However - it is possible in spite of the bad energy economics cited by Dr. David Pimethal which is still being quoted.

    Having been harvested, the grain is hauled by petrol fueled trucks to elevators and then hauled by petrol fueled rail to the maltsters.

    The malting plant is probably not green - however it again probably could do better.

    Now - as others have pointed out - energy is fungible. In order to be off petrol they would have to work only when the wind blows. Or they would have to harness the exothermic reaction called brewing.

    The reason the brewing process gives off CO2 is because a hydrocarbon - eg sugar - is being partially oxidized by the yeast.

    Essentually we are going from a polymer based on (CH2O)n into an alcohol which is CH3CH2OH or C(n)H(2n+1)OH where n=2 for ethanol (C2H6O which is really C2H5OH just written differently).

    To be more specific we have a series of reactions by alpha and beta amylase which are created during the malting process which is exothermic. During mashing which is also exothermic the starches are broken down into simpler sugars, principally maltose which is a disaccharide made from two glucose molecuals.

    So very specifically we have C12H22O11 + H2O -> 2 C6H12O6 followed by
    C6H12O6 -> 2 C2H6O + 2CO2 + heat.

    The point I am making is that with all these exothermic reactions they are still consuming a great deal of energy so they are not nearly as green as they might like to be seen as.

    Next - of the wastewater.

    Well - most of this would contain either nothing of much value or yeast which is very high in protein being a fungus and all... fungus are more closely related to animals than to plants. They are an excellent form of nutrition.

    Rather than flushing the yeast down the sewer or putting it into holding tanks where it can be degraded by another micro-organism producing methane - it makes more sense to collect it and ship it off for food.

    Of course the spent brewer's grains are typically shipped off for cattle fodder since they are high in proteins. Another use for them is as a nitrogen suppliment in synthetic substrates for mushroom production.


    The thing about organics is that plants are basically a polymer of simple sugars. These are built into complex sugars then into starches, cellulose, pentosans and lignin. Fungus digest these. There are many fungus which can do this and some examples are Pleurotis spp, Lentinula spp, Flamulina spp, and I'll not go on. From these three genus we have the common Oyster mushrooms, Shiitaki and Enoki.

    Other fungus which are cellulose digesters include Trichoderma spp. T. reesei is used to produce stone washed blue jeans for instance because it is easy to culture and partially digests the cotton. So they are really fungus washed blue jeans not stone washed and here we have another example of people lying to us!!!

    There are some who are attempting with some success to use T. reesei to digest wood and produce alcohols. I suspect T. Reesei is being used because it is available and not because it is particularly good at this job.

    The economics of this process are actually quite simple.

    We start with a polymer made of (CH2O)n

    We transform it via enzymes excreted by fungi into C(n)H(2n+1)OH

    If we note that the alkane series is C(n)H(2n+2) where for n=8 we get octane then what we see is that our alcohols are simply a slightly oxydized alkane.

    The reaction from sugar to ethanol for instance is:

    (CH2O)6 -> 2(C2H5OH) + 2CO2

    From a molecular weight standpoint we have:

    (12+2+16)*6 -> 2*(24+5+16+1) + 2*(12+32)
    30*6 -> 2*46 + 2*44
    180 -> 92 + 88

    Now agricultural products have some moisture even if they are "dry"
  • Re:Fat Tire (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 18, 2006 @12:44PM (#14948357)
    Nothing is better than American beer after working outdoors all day in the hot humid South. When the temperature is 95 deg F and the humidity is 95% you don't want to drink some warm thick syrup. You want to chug a refreshing freezing cold all-American brewski.
  • Re:Fat Tire (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jthayden ( 811997 ) on Saturday March 18, 2006 @09:26PM (#14950333)
    -I can get it anywhere...any country, any state, any town I'm in, and I don't even need to ask. I know they have it.

    How is this a bonus? Why bother going anywhere if you aren't going to try something new? The first thing I ask for when I go into a bar/pub while traveling is if they have any local brews.

    -Usually, I'm really just looking for something cold and wet.

    Drink water.

    -Usually, the beer is just an accessory to the journey; it's not the destination. I'm more interesting in what's going on around me.

    Drink Water

    -It is still booze. After a few drinks, it doesn't matter what you are drinking.

    This doesn't jive with the your previous point of it's the journey not the destination. If the point is just to get drunk, do a few shots of Everclear and be done with it.

    -Mass produced beers don't attract a gaggle of shallow buffoons that judge people by what they drink.

    That is really your best point and it really isn't that good. The fact is that you can make judgements about people based upon their actions. If you're drinking something like Bud or Miller and that ilk, I can infer that you either are just drinking to get drunk, you have poor taste in beer, or marketing holds too much sway over you. Poor taste in beer is really the kindest choice out of the three and the one I generally attribute to people. I don't make many other judgements beyond that and I'd agree that people that do are annoying. Although quite a few people drinking the mass produced stuff are more than happy to be shallow buffons that judge people by what they aren't drinking too.

I've got a bad feeling about this.