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BUSINESS EXCELLENCE AWARD - ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY

Guilt-free beer. It’s the holy grail of beer lovers everywhere. Scenic Rim craft brewers Chris Herring and Tanya Harlow say they have the answer, but it’s not your waistline that will benefit. The couple and their Beard & Brau Brewery won the award for Environmental Sustainability at last week’s Scenic Rim Business Excellence Awards.

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Chris Herring prides himself on producing guilt-free beer.

But all is not as it seems.

While his Beard & Brau craft beer is all-natural and made using old-fashioned brewing techniques, where it really comes into its own in the guilt stakes is for its environmental sustainability.

Chris and wife Tanya Harlow’s brewing process uses no additives, no filtration, minimal electricity and very little water.

“That’s our philosophy,” says Chris.

“We just do water, malt, hops and yeast. All our ingredients are Australian grown and ultimately we want people to be able to trace the origin of all of the ingredients in our beer.

“Our brewing technique takes a lot longer. For our standard pale ale it’s three to four weeks. To put that in perspective, VB takes four days.”

Chris says being environmentally sustainable has always been important to them, but its power was really highlighted when they first moved to the Scenic Rim three years ago.

“We started in drought,” he says.

“Water was a really important resource in beer. The first thing we started doing was employing technology to minimise our water consumption. We modified our processes. World’s best practice is for seven to 15 litres of water per litre of beer. We use three litres and we’re targeting two litres.

“Water was the first step. Then we set about understanding our business in terms of electricity consumption for heating and cooling.

“Ironically in the beer world you boil stuff and then you get it really, really cold. We employed a range of things from that point of view to use less electricity.

“Continued improvement is our mantra.”

While most beer-loving men have at some point wondered what it might be like to own and run a brewery, Chris says the reality may disappoint.

“Your life as a brewer is spent cleaning,” he says.

“Everytime you empty a tank you have to go through a cleaning and sterilisation process. That’s a major part of the brewer’s life. Beer happens to be one of the most amazing substances for growing bugs – it has the perfect pH for bugs and bacteria.

“Our cleaning processes use non-dangerous, biodegradable products. We’ve also been able to reduce our water consumption again by 30 per cent due to our cleaning products.

“You could actually argue we use no water because we treat onsite and have an environmental treatment system which sends the water onto pasture for our four-legged lawn mowers.”

Beard & Brau Brewery started in South Australia in 2007, when craft brewing was in its infancy.

Chris and Tanya started a nationwide search for a farm where they could move their business and become a true farmhouse brewer.

The search led them to Tamborine Village and now as well as brewing their own products, they contract brew for five of the Queensland’s 15 craft beer brands.

The couple’s two Schnauzer dogs inspired the brewery name.

“We started when only 0.7percent of the beer drunk in Australia was craft beer. Now it’s up to three to four percent.

“We always had a dream of actually being able to brew on our own property. We searched Australia wide for two years and Tamborine came up with the goods.

“Our motivation for doing what we do is making sure there’s tomorrow. I go to bed every night able to sleep knowing that we’re doing the right thing. We’re focused on where things come from and how things are treated.

“Our next step now that we have the brewery established is to have farms dedicated to growing our ingredients. We want to have ingredients which you really know the origin of.”

Image: Tanya Harlow and Chris Herring from Beard & Brau Farmhouse Brewery with Shane Stevenson from the Canungra Chamber of Commerce.