This is the fourth post in our Green Spirit Awards monthly blog series, highlighting breweries, wineries and distilleries in the Southeast using clean energy to create tasty, sustainable beverages. You can read the other blogs in this series by clicking here. Cheers!
The Sunshine State ranks an unimpressive 46th in the nation’s breweries per capita, according to statistics collected by the National Brewers Association in 2012, and many of these breweries are smaller, focusing on local, craft brews. However, while Florida certainly has not been a leader in the local craft beer scene nationally, they are certainly working hard to catch up, and many brewers are watching out for the future of the Sunshine State while they do so.
Given the unique geological characteristics of Florida, swamps, surrounded by salt water, high humidity, and porous limestone protecting much of the state’s fresh water supply, it’s not surprising that sustainability is important to many of these breweries. One that stood out to me when I was researching the topic (what a terrible thing to have to do homework on…) is Swamp Head Brewery.
Swamp Head is based in Gainesville, Florida and takes its state roots seriously, calling themselves “Inherently Floridian”. Founded in 2008, they haven’t been around for THAT long, but it is clear that they take a lot of pride in the Sunshine State and are devoted to its sunny future, with some good brews to aid the celebration of that bright future, of course.
Swamp Head’s obvious dedication to the state means that sustainability is more than a marketing buzzword to them. (Don’t take my word for it, check out their 2015 Sustainability Report HERE.) In Swamp Head’s quest to be carbon neutral, they are purposefully limiting their distribution footprint to primarily the Gainesville area, and never outside state boundaries. While this is sad for out of state folks who want to enjoy their brews, it means that Swamp Head is eliminating a good deal of emissions by avoiding shipping their beer long distances. Even for the local distribution, Swamp Head takes steps to ensure that are working with eco-friendly companies and sourcing local ingredients when they can to make as small of a carbon footprint as possible.
Taking things a step further, Swamp Head puts their money where their mouth is with their Forever Florida series, donating a portion of their proceeds to various environmental efforts, such as the Florida Springs Institute. They also partnered with Solar Impact and the Alachua Conservation Trust on the first annual Tree Fest is 2015, an environmental celebration around Earth Day each year, where 5 trees are planted for every beer bought at the brewery that day. Their first year they raised enough money to plant 20,543 trees, and Swamp Head has plans to continue this project on a larger scale in 2016.
Perhaps even more impressive is Swamp Heads goal of becoming completely carbon neutral in their day-to-day operations by installing solar panels, planting trees, and purchasing additional offsets. In 2015, Swamp Head offset approximately 21% of their total carbon footprint. With Solar Impact, they installed a total of 57 solar panels (becoming the first solar-powered Florida brewery) and now show the energy being generated on monitors in their tasting room, helping spread the word about how well beer brewing and solar actually go together.
In recognition of the sustainability work already done and with a high-five towards their ambitious plans to become even more sustainable in the future, we hereby award Swamp Head Brewery a Green Spirit Award. Cheers!