Bayern Brewery in Missoula, MT has been brewing award-winning, traditional German beers since 1987. They’re not one of the new breweries on the growing-craft-beer-market block. There are a lot of great breweries, but very of few of them have the same strong commitment to a sustainability program.
I’ve been to their brewery and tasting room twice during my travels to Missoula. During my most recent visit with a co-worker, who lives in Missoula, he began telling me about their recycling program and other environmental efforts. As a beer drinking and environmental professional, I am interested in the “environment of beer” and wanted to know more. I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to drink some good beer and learn more about their environmental programs.
Their most interesting sustainable practice is that they recycle their own glass. Combined with buying back their 6-pack holders and/or giving recyclers trade-in value for beer, they recycle or reuse their entire packaging material. For a $3 deposit, you can get one of their Ecopacks to collect and return the bottles and 6-pack holders. They’ll even take back other qualifying beer bottles. How about that, beer drinkers? Bring back your bottles and 6-pack holders and they’ll give you credit for beer!
Another of their sustainable practices I like is an effort to preserve the water quality of the Missoula Aquifer. They have teamed up with Montana Trout Unlimited to donate a percentage of all their Dancing Trout beer and merchandise sales toward conservation and restoration of area fisheries, riparian areas, and watersheds. I love seeing this combined effort to preserve our natural resources. If you’re a beer drinking fisherman living and fishing in Missoula, then what else would you be drinking?
Whenever I come across a group or person implementing great programs like this, I want to know where that comes. What drives them?
TNEP: What is the driving force behind a strong sustainable initiative? Does it come from a passion or interest from the owner, brewer, and/or staff?
Bayern Brewery: Bayern Brewing has its roots in Germany – showcased for over in 25 years in the beer styles produced. We always felt a strong responsibility when it came to resource management. Not only selecting highest quality ingredients but also thinking about the impact of materials in the environment. In our home country (Germany) all the packaging material has a deposit on it, consequently the consumer pays more or less for the beer not for all material it has been packaged with.
TNEP: The tasting room has an friendly, family, local vibe. Does the glass recycling program and relationships with Montana Trout Unlimited help foster that customer loyalty? Or is it just about the good beer?
Bayern: It is a combination of both: Of course the good beer helps to bring in people but also the responsible aspect of our sustainability approaches. We believe consumers value our company philosophies and show support by choosing our product. Also, brew pubs in Germany are the places where young and old, white and blue collar etc. come together and enjoy a beer and have lively discussions.
TNEP: How would you rate the success of your sustainable initiatives, environmentally, economic, or otherwise?
Bayern: We are very proud as a privately owned business to go down the road of reuse, reduce, recycle. We feel that we will be considered the “first ones” in a few years that installed a multi use container system of that size. Many will follow.
If you’re in Missoula and need a place for a good German lager, brewed with the environment in mind, I highly suggest stopping by their tasting room. Try a Dancing Trout, a Pilsner, an Amber, or my favorite, the Maibock. You can read more about their sustainable programs here.