Local Breweries Master Art of Sustainable Brewing

Local Breweries Master Art of Sustainable Brewing

Dozens of brewers learn clean energy tips at SCE’s Foodservice Technology Center workshop

Innovation Brew Works in Pomona practices sustainable brewing. Credit: Jean Anderson

Josh Mericle (left) and Keith Padilla prep the Belgian beer bottles. Credit: Jean Anderson

Employee Daniel Gonzalez scoops the grain from the beer-making process into buckets for the university’s Department of Agriculture. Credit: Jean Anderson

Labels are placed on a Belgian beer from Innovation Brew Works. Credit: Jean Anderson

Stephanie Gebhardt, cellarman for Innovation Brew Works in Pomona. Credit: Jean Anderson

A sample of beers from Innovation Brew Works in Pomona. Credit: Jean Anderson

Eric Bassett, operations brew manager for Innovation Brew Works, checks on his latest brew.

Cal Poly Pomona senior Keith Padilla pours the beer in bottles.

Cal Poly Pomona student Josh Mericle preps the beer barrels.

The crew at Innovation Brew Works.

Friday, August 17, 2018 - 1:20pm


College campuses often have a local pub that students like to hang out at and for Cal Poly Pomona it’s Innovation Brew Works. But unlike other campus bars, the beers served here are all made by the students or recent graduates themselves.

The brewery laboratory is all part of the school’s philosophy of learn by doing. Student’s here not only learn the process of making beer, they also learn how to run a sustainable business. Spent grain from the beer-making process is fed to the cows at the university’s Department of Agriculture and oranges used to flavor their Orange Wit beer are grown right on campus.

“In a brewery there is a lot of waste. We want to utilize what we can to reuse and recycle,” said Eric Bassett, operations brew manager and 2016 Cal Poly Pomona graduate.

Hoping to expand their brewery and restaurant’s efforts around sustainability, Bassett attended Southern California Edison’s recent “Mastering the Art of Sustainable Brewing” event with dozens of other local breweries at the utility’s Foodservice Technology Center in Irwindale.

In addition to learning tips on how to run an environmentally friendly brewery, experts showcased ways to reduce energy and water use. From using LED-efficient lighting to designing an energy-efficient building layout, breweries also learned about Time-of-Use rates and off-peak hours. By brewing during off-peak hours, businesses can reduce their electric bills.

“Craft breweries are a growing segment and an untapped market,” said Andre Saldivar, a mechanical engineer who oversees SCE’s Foodservice Technology Center. “We are learning along with [these breweries] and sharing best practices.”

Ian Hughes received his first home brewing kit after graduating from Muskingum University with a degree in environmental science. Today, he’s the sustainability ambassador for the Brewers Association and meets with brewers from across the country.

“Craft breweries have a drive toward local, handcrafted and a lot of these companies start with sustainability models as part of their business plans,” he said. “My job is to push them over the edge a bit.”

Hughes encourages breweries to benchmark their data by closely monitoring utility bills to see where costs can be reduced. Utilities like SCE provide customers with the roadmap to running an energy-efficient business, including rebates and incentives.

“There is the potential to save money by being energy-efficient,” he said.

Stephanie Gebhardt is the cellarman for Innovation Brew Works. She earned her master’s degree in Regenerative Studies from Cal Poly Pomona earlier this year and aims to help make the student-run brewery more sustainable.

“I’ve been a tree hugger since I was little. Sustainability is something to me that makes sense,” she said. “We want to reduce the overuse of our resources and reduce our waste. And we want to encourage other breweries to see how we do it.”

For more information: Foodservice Technology Center.