Wednesday, 11 January 2012 00:00
Written by Steve Graham | Blog Entry
How did a Colorado brewery land four sets of news stories in one week? By going green.
New Belgium is a Fort Collins, Colorado, microbrewery most famous for Fat Tire, which is becoming nearly as ubiquitous as Sam Adams in bars and liquor stores across the country. Its brewery is one bottle ahead of the rest of the beer industry in sustainability—and that has paid off for the company in spades when it comes to free publicity:
- The brewery announced plans to install Colorado’s largest corporate solar array on its bottling plant. That generated several stories in Colorado and across the country, including local TV news.
- Greenopia, an eco-friendly business directory, put New Belgium at the top of its beer sustainability ratings. The list, which preceded the solar-panel announcement, resulted in at least one online magazine story.
Greenopia cites the brewer’s organic beers and low water usage—slightly more than half the industry average. It also likes New Belgium’s green building design, renewable energy use, thorough environmental reporting and heavy focus on cycling. Beyond naming its flagship beer after two-wheelers, it gives employees bikes and hosts popular, wacky bike festivals around the country.
New Belgium’s only black mark was for its product packaging: the list lauds the company for local sourcing, but encourages it to use more recyclable products.
- Maybe Greenopia needs to read Fast Company. The business magazine has a story about New Belgium and other microbreweries that are canning instead of bottling beers. Aluminum cans are easier and cheaper to recycle than glass. Industry experts also say lined cans are better for the beer and may attract both environmentalists and working-class heroes who reject snobby bottles (not to mention my fellow campers who prefer carrying lighter, safer cans).
- New Belgium’s sustainability measures figured prominently in a Chicago newspaper’s travel story concerning going green in Colorado. (The writer was also excited that we recycle, bike and take refillable water bottles to baseball games here in the Centennial state). This is the type of advertising the big breweries can’t buy—and they try.
Between DVRs and bathroom breaks, we don’t watch TV ads much anymore. Many of us also have trained ourselves to skip right past magazine and newspaper advertising. But being positively mentioned as part of an article remains a great way to reach potential customers.
Finally, you can add this blog entry to all of the free publicity for New Belgium beers. And cheers to New Belgium for adding a dandelion beer to its lineup. They finally found a really good use for all those pesky weeds.
Let’s raise a toast to New Belgium, which has learned that good publicity will pay for solar panels and wind turbines, all tax credits aside.
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