Craft breweries, especially in Grand Rapids, are leading a sustainability movement. Each brewery has its own way of tackling that issue. Here are five breweries influencing the way Grand Rapids breweries look at sustainability:

Brewery Vivant focuses on building a sustainable community by investing in local materials. 50 percent of Brewery Vivant's food input and 25 percent of its drink input is grown within 250 miles of its East Hills location.

Brewery Vivant focuses on building a sustainable community for all by investing in local materials.

Photo Credit: Experience Grand Rapids (taken by Bree Girard)


Brewery Vivant

Brewery Vivant has become a shining example of sustainability among brewers. Each year, the brewery releases its Beer The Change report, highlighting their sustainability efforts.

Co-founders Kris and Jason Spaulding take great care to ensure Brewery Vivant will be driving change in the East Hills community for years to come.

The Spauldings are committed to sourcing locally and regionally as much as possible. They have established a goal for the brewery of 50 percent of their food input and 25 percent of their drink input to be grown in the state of Michigan. They also have a goal to have 75 percent of their expenses be with independent Michigan-based companies.

Brewery Vivant donates one percent of sales to local charities, generates 10 percent of its energy with more than 120 rooftop solar panels, and is the first LEED certified microbrewery in the world.

Kris Spaulding is also on the DEI Committee for the Michigan Brewers Guild.

Founded by two lifelong local residents in 2012, the Mitten Brewing Co. has emphasized sustainability and charitable giving since its inception.

Founded by two lifelong local residents in 2012, the Mitten Brewing Co. has emphasized sustainability and charitable giving since its inception.

Photo Credit: Experience Grand Rapids (taken by Bree Girard)


Mitten Brewing Co.

Mitten Brewing Co. co-owners, Chris Andrus and Max Trierweiler, in conjunction with their staff, work to support neighborhood schools and amplify the voices of their neighbors all year long.

Mitten Brewing has raised more than $350,000 for area nonprofits and organizations. In 2017, the brewery launched its own foundation, The Mitten Brewing Foundation. Each month, the brewery donates a portion of its sales to area nonprofits and takes special initiatives on other projects, like contributing toward a fully accessible playground at Richmond Park, student lunch assistance, and Make-A-Wish Michigan.

Fact: All napkins, to-go products, and straws at BarFly Ventures' establishments are made from renewable resources and plants.

Fact: All napkins, to-go products, and straws at BarFly Ventures' establishments are made from renewable resources and plants.

Photo Credit: Experience Grand Rapids


Grand Rapids Brewing Co. and HopCat

BarFly Ventures establishments, including Grand Rapids Brewing Co. and HopCat (which has locations in Downtown and Knapps Corner), diverted more than 90 percent of its waste from the landfill to compost and recycling.

In 2017, BarFly Ventures was recognized as the Sustainable Business of the Year by the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum thanks to its waste elimination efforts and partnerships with sustainability nonprofits across the country.

BarFly is a founding member of multiple sustainable-focused organizations, including the U.S. Green Building Council’s Grand Rapids 2030 District and the Great Lakes Business Network.

Founders' goal is for each employee to dedicate one hour of community service each year. In 2017, Founders employees dedicated 450 service hours.

Founders' goal is for each employee to dedicate one hour of community service each year. In 2017, Founders employees dedicated 450 service hours.

Photo Credit: Experience Grand Rapids


Founders Brewing Co.

By far the largest brewery in Grand Rapids, Founders Brewing Co. is no slouch when it comes to its sustainability and charitable efforts. 

With millions of gallons of water making its way through the brewery each year, Founders makes a point to reduce its water usage as much as possible. In 2020 the brewery used 3.57 barrels of water for every barrel of beer it produced--an efficiency realized from 2018's goal of 3.89 barrels. Their 2021 goal is to reduce water consumption to 3.46 barrels for every one barrel of beer produced.

The brewery is also a big reason the city of Grand Rapids is constructing a bio-digester at its Water Resource Recovery Facility. The bio-digester will convert food waste into energy from nearby Founders, SET Environmental facilities and other sources. 

In 2017, Founders launched its corporate giving platform, The Big Pitcher, designed to give back to local, regional, and national causes that the brewery is passionate about, particularly those that emphasize social equity, arts &culture, and the environment. The Big Pitcher is also how Founders matches charitable giving by its employees. In 2019 the program contributed $100,000 in donations and that figure increased to $113,000 in 2020. 

Founders was a major driver behind the Grand Rapids Whitewater organization and the brewery continues to support the organization's efforts in revitalizing the Grand River (Note: That’s the river that puts the “Grand” in Grand Rapids!). 

As a city that was once referred to as the Green Building Capitol due to city-wide sustainability efforts, Grand Rapids breweries are doing their part to keep an environmentally-conscious community.

Want to become a Brewsader or just looking for the best brew in your neighborhood? Start your search at the Beer City, USA page. Don't forget to download the Brewsader® Passport app for iPhone and Android users to earn Brewsader perks!

This story was originally published in 2018 and has been updated with current information.

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