Our brewing journey means shrinking our carbon footprint one step at a time
At Darling Brew, we’re serious about what we do. This is particularly true when it comes to caring for our environment. From our very first brew, we’ve dedicated each of our beers to one of Africa’s precious creatures.
When we built our state-of-the-art brewery in our hometown of Darling in the Western Cape, environmental concerns were top-of mind. We live here. It’s our home. We wanted our carbon footprint to be as small as possible, while making a positive impact in the community.
Sustainability was a key motivator, not because it’s a catchphrase, it’s how we live. A trip through Africa to drink in its majestic beauty is what inspired us to start brewing in the first place. The brewery we built from that inspiration was always going to be one that reflected our values of environmental awareness and living harmoniously with nature.
Not only did we want to brew delicious, satisfying beer, we wanted to do it in a way that was kind to the earth and all its creatures.
Carbon Neutral Status
From the start, it was our intention to become Africa’s first carbon-neutral brewery. We set about managing our footprint in every facet of production. Rainwater is harvested, and potable water left from some processes is used in washing floors or flushing toilets.
The brewing and fermentation space is naturally lit wherever possible. We heat water with solar power. For the Tasteroom at the Darling site, the crates our machinery arrived in were turned into furniture and used to build the bar. The mantra of ‘reuse, repurpose, recycle’ is the deafening drumbeat of our days.
We achieved carbon-neutral status in 2018, the first in Africa and one of very few such breweries worldwide. Apart from the pride we felt for Darling Brew living up to our sustainable dreams, our efforts were not going unnoticed.
Four Green Star Recognition
Early in 2019, we were awarded Four Green Stars by the Green Building Council of South Africa. Four out of a possible six stars is not bad for our first audit, and we continue to work to improve our standing.
Every milestone reached is an opportunity to set new goals. We take a moment to look at how we can build on it or improve our performance. Our philosophy of pursuing ethical and imperative environmental and ecological practices runs throughout our business journey.
If we come across a problem with no obvious or immediate solution, we come back to it again and again. We turn it over and over until a fix is found.
It Starts With Us
One such issue, something that has been a sore point for Darling Brew since its inception, is the use of plastic in packaging. From a cost and transport safety perspective our classic four-packs have always had to be shrink-wrapped in plastic.
More ecologically sound solutions were just too expensive and too complex for a start-up brewery struggling to get the best quality beer on shelves across the nation. Our shrink-wrap four-packs were a necessity we had to live with while we explored different options. The awesome beer in those bottles is only one part of the journey.
Exhaustive research into card or cardboard solutions has finally delivered a result. Working with Boland Printers, involved in the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) we’ve come up with a perfect fit.
Our new recyclable cardboard cartons are printed with environmentally friendly ink. Furthermore, there is no plastic involved in the shipping process. The cartons are stacked in pallets with no shrink-wrap for transport. That makes us happy.
Dodging the Glyphosate Bullet
Sometimes the simple process of following sound or sustainable environmental practices bears unexpected fruit. We’ve had another great but unlooked-for coup as a result of our principles this year. Thanks to our use of ethically sourced, non-GMO grains, Darling Brew beers are glyphosate-free.
Early in our brewing career, we became aware of the relationship between great ingredients and excellent beer. The better the quality of your inputs, the more satisfying the result is likely to be. Stands to reason.
We took to sourcing not only the best quality, but also organic or biodynamically farmed grains. For the most part, we had to look abroad for grist for our mill. Over 80% of wheat and more than 90% of maize grown in South Africa is a Genetically Modified Organism. This means farmers spray with Round-up or a similar pesticide on their crops.
Round-up contains glyphosate which doesn’t just wash off the grain. It is systemic, entering the cells of the plant and passing on to anything that consumes it. Glyphosate is carcinogenic. It aggregates (or accumulates) in the body from the consumption of any product made using treated ingredients. It can’t be washed off, cooked away or otherwise dispersed.
So, a burger made with meat from a cow that’s been fed GMO maize will have traces of glyphosate in it. Bread baked with flour from GMO wheat, is likely to contain glyphosate. Only by choosing organically or bio-dynamically farmed grains can artisan bakers such as Jason Bakery in Cape Town keep glyphosate out of their bread.
Beer brewed using GMO cereal crops… same story. But not our beer.
Darling Brew beers are glyphosate-free thanks to our stringent rules for sourcing barley, hops and wheat. Sometimes you dodge a bullet just because you are doing the right things. Some call it karma. We know it’s commitment.
Take a break from consuming carcinogens in everything. Crack a carton and wrap your hand around one of our carefully crafted Darling Brew beers. It will comfort you. It will comfort you because in a world of greedy corporates and reckless manufacturing, our beer stands apart.
Let’s be careful out there.