Walk into any London pub and you’ll find the taps heaving with small, independent craft beers, many of which come from within a mere mile radius. Craft beer is a booming industry – and it’s no longer just for bearded CAMRA enthusiasts, either. But also growing is customers’ increased awareness of environmental issues, with more and more of us choosing brands that put the planet first. Many small breweries don’t cater to vegans, for example, as they use things like fish guts for filtering and clarifying their beers. Beer brewing also isn’t great for the environment, requiring a lot of water for cleaning (as well as actually in the beer), and creating a huge amount of waste as a result.
But change is coming. Freedom Brewery is the craft beer brand that’s decided to go down a different route. Five years ago it moved from its first home in London to a new base in Staffordshire, where it could focus on producing its range of beers – which include a crisp 4 per cent British lager, a floral Helles organic lager, a citrusy Pilsner and a dry Pale Ale – using only natural, sustainable and vegan brewing techniques.
For starters, Freedom doesn’t use isinglass – a gelatine made from fish bladders – to clarify its products, meaning all its beer is vegan. The fresh spring water the brewery uses is also sourced from a bore hole on-site, and the waste is ecologically processed using a natural reed bed system, which doesn’t use any chemicals.
What’s more, once the mashing of the malt for the beer is complete, the spent grain goes to a local dairy farm to be used as cattle feed, along with any used paper, which is shredded and used as bedding for the cows. Freedom also ferments its beer at low temperatures and matures it for 28 days instead of pasteurising it, which involves additional heat and chemical treatment. On top of all that, Freedom has also installed five colonies of bees on its land, to support bio-diversity in the local landscape, and has reduced its emissions by 70 per cent by switching to an ecological heating process, efforts that meant it was named Green Business of the Year by the Society of Independent Brewers back in 2016.
What it also means is that the brewery’s range of vegan-friendly and eco-conscious beers is inching the craft beer market just a little bit further down the road to sustainability – something that, hopefully, will catch on with other makers across the country. Plus, it’s an easy win for beer drinkers who want to help the planet, whether they’re vegan or not. All the taste, and none of the guilt – what’s not to like?
Available from freedombrewery.com. You can also try Freedom Brewery out at ethical London market the Urban Food Festival, where it’ll be appearing on the first Saturdays of July and September this summer