Sconnie Beer Going Green

the Wisconsin DNR is offering breweries grants to get more energy efficient

Emily Albrent

Green Valkyrie brew?
Green Valkyrie brew?

Wisconsin has always had a past built on beer. While that deep-seated tradition may or may not contribute to the health of the overall population, it doesn’t have to hurt the health of the environment. Recently, five state breweries were given an energy efficient grant by the Wisconsin Department of Administration and the Department of Natural Resources through the U.S Department of Energy State Energy Program.

Andrew Savagian, public affairs manager at the DNR, said grants are a way to help jumpstart a company’s needs. The DNR is involved with GreenShare, which is a way to improve overall environmental performance.  

Breweries were a natural fit because they use a lot of water and a lot of other resources and with the history of breweries in Wisconsin, Savagian said it was a win-win situation for both the environment and the economy.

“What (the grant) will do is keep money local. It promotes local business, it promotes local farmers, it builds a strong community.” – Anne Lee, owner of Valkyrie Brewing in Dallas, Wis.

“We kind of need support from all areas,” Savagian said. “The community needs to be involved, the state has to be involved and the private sector has to be involved, and that’s where these grants help.”

One local brewery, Valkyrie Brewing Company in Dallas, Wis., used the money they received to assist with their biofuel project.  Among other procedures, they will be replacing a large amount of their fossil fuels with vegetable oil from locally grown seeds, waste vegetable oil from restaurants, and waste oil from auto shops.

In order to be considered for this grant, Anne Lee, one of the owners of Valkyrie Brewing Company, wrote up a proposal detailing what the brewery would do with the grant money.

“What it will do is keep money local,” Lee said. “It promotes local businesses, it promotes local farmers … (and) it builds a stronger community.”

Another brewery that received a grant is 3 Sheeps Brewing Co. in Sheboygan. Brewery founder Grant Pauly said his business is using the money to help expand and become more efficient.

“We are very labor-intensive,” Pauly said. “We invest in people, not technology and the money that they allocated is going to help up grow and employ more people.”

One of the breweries that received a grant in Milwaukee, Lakefront Brewery is using the grant money to help replace boilers that were no longer energy efficient. By replacing these, owner Russ Klisch said they have upped their efficiency 20 percent in the process, and in the long run it will help both save money and the environment.

Klisch said being a part of a brewery is meaningful and a great aspect of Wisconsin to be involved in.

“To me it’s an artistic form of manufacturing,” Klisch said. “You get to make a product that other people desire and has some character to it and you can use your creativity with it.”

Wisconsin and it’s past and present in brewing beer is no surprise to any of the breweries.

Lee of Valkyrie Brewing Company takes pride in her business and acknowledged that Wisconsin has deep roots in brewing.  

“It’s just part of the community, of what you think of as Wisconsin,” Lee said.