LOLO- It’s a brisk Monday evening in November, and for folks at Lolo Peak Brewery, it probably seems like a normal night full of great beer, good food, and an awesome crowd. But what many people didn’t realize that night is that they were getting the first taste of a beer made almost completely out of recycled carbon.
"When you look at some of your bigger folks, they're looking into these sort of technologies, but it's something they have to scale. And so this is really almost a pilot, or a cutting edge way of doing this sort of technology in a craft brewery," says Beer Ambassador Radd Icenoggle with Lolo Peak Brewery.
One of the masterminds behind the new technology is Taylor Woods.
Woods helped found CoBrew, a Montana company that develops and installs a carbon recycling system at breweries around the state.
The idea is relatively simple… the equipment captures carbon dioxide released in the fermentation process, filters it, and then re-bottles the CO2 to be used in everything from cleaning bottles to adding bubbles to the beer.
"The taste is the same… I think it might have a little bit more of a little soft spot in your heart, because you know you're doing something good not only for the business, but potentially something good for the planet as well,” says Icenoggle while drinking his recycled beer.
"What we're saving is equivalent to what 250 cars emit a day, so every year they will emit as much CO2 as 250 cars do a day,” says Woods. That figure is approximate, and applies to a brewery like Lolo Peak, which produces about 1,200 barrels per year.
But Woods says this technology doesn't have to be limited to small Montana craft brewers.
Woods says he thinks this is the future of brewing.
"I think so, because every brewery, basically since the beginning of time, has been producing CO2," he says. "It's always been a byproduct of the brewing process and all of them consume CO2 in one fashion or another, and if you can recycle what you produce, recycle your byproduct and do it in an economical way, there's really no down side to that."
Not just no down side, but a new opportunity for brewers in a state whose livelihood depends on the union between good beer, and the great outdoors.
"Our idea was always: what is cost effective, and beneficial to the community? Our timber comes from Hunts Timbers in Ronan, so everything is local. And now our gas is local too? It's all a win-win,” says Icenoggle.
Woods says they are working on getting CoBrew’s recycling system into more breweries across the state (including mighty mo?) And one day, even across the nation.
For more information on CoBrew and what they do, head to their website.