It goes without saying that Britain is a nation of beer lovers, with 8.5 billion pints of beer sold in the UK in 2018.
8.5 billion pints of beer is a lot of water, but that’s not the whole picture. Did you know that to industrially brew one single pint of beer, this process typically requires 8-10 pints of water? So, to produce those 8.5 billion pints of beer requires around a staggering 855 billion pints of water.
As someone who enjoys the occasional beer, I was over the moon to hear about South Bermondsey based craft brewers Small Beer. As well as producing great tasting vegan low alcohol ‘small’ beers, they have ingeniously designed a brewing system that requires just 1 ½ pints of water to brew one pint of Small Beer.
How has Small Beer managed to save so much water? In most commercial breweries, waste products are drained on to the floor, which is then hosed down the drain. Instead, Small Beer operates differently – with the country’s only ‘Dry Floor’ policy that saves hundreds of litres of water every day.
So much so, that since their first commercial brew in 2017, Small Beer says they’ve saved 1.4 million litres of water.
Why Stop At Saving Water?
Small Beer hasn’t just stopped at saving water. All aspects of sustainability have been considered. From the obvious, such as the beer labels, boxes, and business cards being made from 100% recycled materials; to the other sustainability aspects that are often overlooked, like the efficiency of their packaging.
You see, all Small Beers are packaged in stubby bottles because their design allows 672 litres of beer to fit on one pallet vs. the usual 480 litres. This helps them to reduce their carbon footprint by maximising the volume of stock per delivery. This is the kind of thinking that really impresses me.
Zero-waste principles are also employed. Spent grain is delivered to a partner farm, for use as feed for cows. Even their grain sacks, which their malt supplier can’t refill, are donated to BOST, a social and environmental charity, based locally, who use them for storing and moving gardening materials across their neighbourhood programmes.
Small Beer has been recognised by their ethical production and responsible brewing practices, by, in 2019, becoming London’s first B-CORP™ certified brewery. This is a certification that recognises businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability, and help build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.
The Moral Fibres Taste Test
Of course, as Small Beer themselves say: “We’re not a ‘sustainable beer’. We’re a great tasting beer that brews with our world in mind“.
Impressed by Small Beer’s eco-credentials, and intrigued by low-alcohol beer, my partner and I sampled a few of Small Beer’s selection to test them on their taste claims. I know, I know, it’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it!
- The 2.1% Lager – described as a classic pilsner-style, with a crisp citrus bite.
- The 2.5% Session Pale – a pale ale, full of juicy bitterness and a balanced tropical finish.
- The 2.7% Steam – a rich amber style beer, bridging the gap between lager & ale.
- And finally, the 1.0% Dark Lager – which looks and smells like a stout or a porter, but drinks like a lager.
I always imagined low-alcohol beer to taste quite watery, but this was definitely not the case with Small Beer – each beer is ram-packed full of flavour. We were blown away by the Dark Lager, which was hands down our favourite, with its hints of chocolate and coffee. The refreshing citrus flavours of the Session Pale came a close second, however, we certainly wouldn’t turn down the Steam or Lager if offered!
As well as the flavour, what we really appreciated, being people that, let’s just say, are not in their twenties, or, ahem, thirties anymore, is that you can (responsibly) enjoy a few great tasting craft beers of an evening, and not have a sore head in the morning. All the joy, and none of the consequences!
Keen to try out Small Beer for yourself? Visit the Small Beer website, where you can shop for their beers online for home delivery, and follow them on social media. Find Small Beer on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.