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REFLECTION MEMOS: Each Wednesday you will turn in a reflection memo, with your personal reactions to the course material. Yo


REFLECTION MEMOS: Each Wednesday you will turn in a reflection memo, with your personal reactions to the course material. Yo

REFLECTION MEMOS:

Each Wednesday you will turn in a reflection memo, with your personal reactions to the course material. You should use this exercise as an opportunity to integrate course material with your own life and experiences, and for you to give me feedback on how the course is going for you. The content of the memos should focus on both the course material and your experiences but are otherwise open to you. For example, you might discuss your reaction to class discussions, films, lectures, or readings, report on an event in your life or conversations you’ve had with friends and family about course material. These are not reading or lecture summaries. Your reflection memos should be no less than a paragraph but no more than a page.

Vol.:(0123456789)

Critical Criminology (2020) 28:407–423 https://doi.org/10.1007/s10612-019-09465-5

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Tapping into Environmental Harm in Brewing: An Exploration of Pollution and Waste in Beer Production

Travis Milburn1  · Favian Alejandro Guertin‑Martín2

Published online: 1 October 2019 © Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Abstract The beer industry in the United States (US) is undergoing significant change as craft beer has grown exponentially in recent years. The number of craft breweries has increased threefold since 2011 (Brewers Association 2019b), and the US now features more than 6000 breweries of various sizes (Vorel 2017). As promising as this growth may be for the industry and beer enthusiasts, incidents of environmental degradation at the hands of brew- eries have persisted. This article draws from interviews with US craft brewers to explore the problem of environmental harm in the brewing industry. We focus on the consumption of freshwater and the disposal of wastewater, primarily within brewing facilities, but also across the beer supply chain. Finally, we consider the role of consumer-driven environmen- tal consciousness as a mechanism to address environmental harm within the beer industry.

Introduction

According to recent statistics, the number of beer breweries operating in the United States (US) is now about 6300 (Brewers Association 2018b) and hundreds more are slated to begin production in the near future. Craft beer is booming as the number of breweries has grown threefold since 2011 (Brewers Association 2019a, b). Despite this growth, several new and old breweries have been responsible for causing pollution and other environmen- tal harms. For instance, in 2017, the owners of Tree House Brewing Company, located in Charlton, Massachusetts, were notified by the Charlton Water and Sewer Commission (the “Commission”) that their brewery was discharging “high levels of metals and other contaminants” into their local water treatment facility (Lee 2017: 1). (Water treatment facilities, which are also referred to as publicly operated treatment works (POTWs), are state-operated entities that serve as water treatment centers (Stretesky et  al. 2014).) The notification listed the types of metals and contaminants released, including aluminum, ammoniacal nitrogen, copper, lead, nitrate, nitrite, phosphorous, and zinc. Brewery wastewater is regulated and permitted under the Clean Water Act (Brewers Association

* Travis Milburn [email protected]

1 Penn State Shenango, 147 Shenango Avenue, Sharon, PA 16146, USA 2 Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice, Arcadia University, 450 South

Easton Road, Glenside, PA 19038, USA

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2017a); such water contains high levels of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and total suspended solids (TSSs) (Lee 2017: 1), which can have a negative impact on ecosystems. (For a detailed description of BOD, TSS, and other pollutants common in wastewater, see Stretesky et al. 2014.) The Commission also reported that prior to the construction of the brewery, “Charlton had been sending discharge to the Upper Blackstone Water Pollution Abatement District in Millbury at a rate of three to five truckloads per month…[i]t is now sending eight to nine trucks per month attributable to the brewing company” (Lee 2017: 1).

The situation in Charlton, Massachusetts, is not an outlier. Recently, the city of Burling- ton, Vermont, which has experienced a substantial growth of craft beer breweries, encoun- tered a number of environmental problems due to breweries, forcing the city to close public beaches on the shores of Lake Champlain due to water pollution (Jerome 2018). According to Rathke (2018: 1):

the city released 1.8 million gallons (6.8 million liters) of partially treated wastewater into the lake earlier this month [June 2018]…State officials said part of the problem was wastewater from breweries and food producers that upset the biological balance of the treatment plant.

These two brief examples demonstrate a variety of environmental concerns emerging at a time in which beer production is undergoing significant change. Such polluting activi- ties are troubling, but they represent just the beginning of a larger story of environmen- tal harm that spans the supply chain—from hop fields to tap lines. Indeed, the process of brewing beer is extremely water intensive; an estimated seven barrels of water is needed to produce one barrel of beer (Brewers Association 2017a). As such, “breweries produce large volumes of wastewater and incur major wastewater costs” (Jerome 2018: 1). In fact, a report issued by the Brewers Association (2017a) reveals that seventy percent of the water released from breweries is wastewater and most is dumped into the sewer system. Accord- ingly, breweries pose a risk to POTWs if they do not have the resources to treat adequately wastewater from the brewing process, as was the case in Charlton, Massachusetts. This article explores environmental issues within the beer industry as perceived among a group of craft brewers located in the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions of the US. Before discussing findings from these interviews, we describe the history and current state of the American beer industry.

History and Current State of the Craft Beer Industry

Archeologists believe that beer production can be traced to several ancient civilizations (e.g., China, Egypt, and Mesopotamia). It was in the Middle Ages, however, that beer pro- duction flourished significantly (Smith 1995). During the colonization and expansion of the US, European immigrants from the Czech Republic and Germany were responsible for the production of beer (Shapiro and Kenin 2017), but the National Prohibition Act of 1919 (also known as the Volstead Act (hereinafter, the “Act”)), passed with the intention of carrying out the Eighteenth Amendment of the US Constitution, prohibited the production and commercial selling of beer and other alcoholic beverages in the US (Smith 1995). As a consequence of prohibition, most breweries ceased operation as the Act effectively barred their activity. In 1933, the US Congress passed the Blaine Act (formally, the “Joint Reso- lution Proposing the Twenty-First Amendment to the United States Constitution”), which initiated the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment. As Papazian (2014: 8) asserts, “when

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it [Prohibition] was over, only the larger breweries had survived by making malt products for the food industry. Low budget operations combined with equipment left idle and in disrepair for over a decade contributed to the demise of the smaller, local breweries.” Con- sequently, larger breweries (e.g., Anheuser-Busch; Miller Brewing Company) dominated the beer market without any competition from microbreweries. In 1978, however, President Jimmy Carter signed H.R. Bill 1337, which legalized home brewing in the US (Papazian 2014). Some individuals argue that this law propelled the craft beer industry as many brew- ers originally began their profession with home brewing before starting their own brew- ing business (Herz 2017). In fact, nearly 90% of all craft brewers initially started as home brewers before establishing their own breweries (Papazian 2014).

Before proceeding further, a word about terminology is in order. “Craft breweries” pro- duce fewer than six million barrels of beer per year and operate independently of other alcohol beverage businesses that are not considered craft brewers. “Microbreweries” are craft breweries which produce fewer than 15,000 barrels (465,000 gallons) annually (Brew- ers Association 2018a). Currently, there are over 100 non-craft breweries in the US (Brew- ers Association 2019a, b), which are considered “macrobreweries” because they produce more than six million barrels (186 million gallons) of beer annually. (Macrobreweries are sometimes referred to as “large” or “non-craft” (Brewers Association 2019b).) Craft beer is booming, and the number of breweries has grown threefold since 2011. As of 2018, the number of craft beer breweries in the US was 7346 (out of 7450 total) (Brewers Asso- ciation 2019b). According to Bart Watson, chief economist for the Brewers Association, “83% of the population lives within 10 miles of a local brewery, meaning that the positive impact of breweries is being felt in communities all over the country” (Brewers Associa- tion 2017b: 1). The craft beer industry’s volume of production grew almost 4% in 2018, whereas the production within macrobreweries dropped by almost 1% (Brewers Asso- ciation 2019b). In addition, the craft beer market generated over $76 billion to the US economy in 2017 and more than 500,000 jobs are attributed to the craft industry (Brewers Association 2018b). Taken together, these figures illustrate a changing beer industry in the US; this growth, however, has been met with criticism, given the record of environmental harms by producers.

Environmental Harms in the Beer Industry

Breweries have a history of violating environmental laws and engaging in environmentally harmful behaviors. As McWilliams (2014: 1) noted:

It’s no secret that the brewing industry as a whole has traditionally had a dismal eco- logical track record. For decades big brewers, like big industries everywhere, fol- lowed the seemingly inexorable path of brute-force production. Natural resources were seen to be boundless and expendable, scale economies the Holy Grail, and pol- lution hardly an afterthought.

Even a simple Google search of news reports presents one with instances of brewer- ies creating a host of environmental problems. For example, in 2009, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted Maurice Lynch, then an Environmental and Safety Manager for Diageo North America, Inc. (which produces Guinness and Red Stripe), for providing false reports on emission from their brewing facility in Pennsylvania (Birkbeck 2009). The DOJ alleged that the Lynch “ordered two employees to create false monitoring reports assuring the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection that the Diageo North America

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plant in Upper Macungie Township was complying with federal emissions standards” (Birkbeck 2009: 1). Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident; other well-known beer brands have been implicated in environmental harm, including macrobrewers, such as Coors Brewing Company (and international subsidiaries of the company) and the top craft beer producer by sales volume in the US, D.G. Yuengling and Son (Brewers Association 2019a).

Coors Brewing Company, located in Golden, Colorado, and part of the Molson Coors Brewing Company, has also achieved notoriety for violating environmental laws. The Sierra Club, a nonprofit environmental protection organization, “threatened to file a fed- eral lawsuit [against the beer company] for more than 240 violations of the Clean Water Act from 1986 to 1991” (Obmascik 2001: 1). Many of these violations pertain to the beer company’s illegal dumping of copper, mercury, and silver in a nearby creek. In 1990, the beer company “pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor violations of state water laws and agreed to pay $750,000 [in fines]” (Obmascik 2001: 1). Although Coors Brewing Com- pany spent nearly $300,000 on “environmental improvements,” in 2000, the brewery ille- gally dumped almost 80,000 gallons of beer which negatively impacted the local ecosystem (Obmascik 2001: 1). In fact, over 50,000 fish were killed in this incident. According to one report, “The fish kill was believed to be the largest in Colorado in at least two dec- ades… and it came 10 years after a similar Coors accident wiped out 13,193 fish in Clear Creek” (Obmascik 2001: 1). In addition, in 2016, Molson Coors Brewery in the United Kingdom (UK) was fined “£100,000 for polluting a tributary of the Thames in Hampshire” (Kaminski 2016: 1). The British government reported “fungus in a stream outside a resi- dential development in Alton, Hampshire [was] traced …to Molson Coors’ Alton brewery” (Kaminski 2016: 1). Again, in 2017, Heineken UK was found guilty of polluting in the city of Hereford in the UK. According to the Environment Agency, “the incident, at their Bul- mer’s cider plant in August 2014, was caused when a container of ammonia-contaminated water was emptied to a surface water drain which connected to the Widemarsh Brook” (Sutton 2017: 1). Nearly 3000 fish were killed due to the illegal dumping, which was per- petrated by Heineken UK (Sutton 2017).

In June of 2016, the US DOJ and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a consent decree with D.G. Yuengling and Son, a Pennsylvania beer company, over allegations of violating federal environmental laws. The company “violated US envi- ronmental laws by releasing its industrial waste into publicly owned wastewater treatment facilities numerous times between 2008 and 2015” (Niland 2016: 1). Upon further inves- tigation of the brewery, federal prosecutors found “the illegal discharges occurred at least 141 times and exceeded the limits for biological oxygen demand (BOD), phosphorus, zinc, and pH into the water supply” (Niland 2016: 1). Taken together, the illegal dumping of waste into municipal water treatment facility presented a serious risk to local residents. As suggested by Shawn M. Garvin, administrator of Region III of the EPA at the time, “Yuengling is responsible for serious violations of its Clean Water Act pretreatment dis- charge limits, posing a potential risk to the Schuylkill River, which provides drinking water to 1.5 million people” (Bastasch 2016: 1). As a consequence of the violation in federal environmental laws, D.G. Yuengling and Son was fined nearly $3 million and settled to spend almost “$7 million to upgrade and improve its environmental protection measures” (Niland 2016: 1). These examples demonstrate the types of environmental harms that have occurred with modern beer production.

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The Beer Industry, Brewing and Water

Both the development of private interests and population growth have created strain on the water resources of the Earth. From a worldwide perspective, by 2030, demand for clean water could be 40% higher than it is today (Addams et al. 2009) and water scarcity affects all conti- nents on Earth, including almost 20% of the total global population (SABMiller et al. 2010). Private entities have recognized and begun to address this issue, and a large body of litera- ture concerning risks pertaining to water scarcity and security has emerged (e.g., Pegram et al. 2009). As a major contributor to economic growth, the food and beverage industry has also been responsible for a wide range of environmental harms and wastes including massive use of water and the creation of wastewater. The brewing industry is not exempt from these issues (Valta et al. 2015).

Among beverages, beer ranks fifth in global consumption at an average of about 6 gal- lons (22.7 L) per person annually (Fillaudeau et al. 2006). As noted above, the brewing pro- cess itself is extremely water intensive; it is estimated that seven barrels of water is needed to produce one barrel of beer (Agnew 2016; Brewers Association 2017a, b) where one bar- rel is equivalent to 31 gallons (117.3 L) (Brewers Association 2019a, b). Large quantities of water are used at each stage of production in the creation of this wildly popular libation. The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) (2018) states that the beer industry in the US sold 207.4 million barrels of beer in 2017, which is more than 6.4 billion gallons (24.2 billion liters). This amounts to almost 45 billion gallons (170.3 billion liters) of water used in the brewing process in the US alone. Due to this reliance on water, “breweries produce large volumes of wastewater and incur major wastewater costs” (Jerome 2018).

The “water footprint” of the US$300 billion beer industry is substantial (Kaye 2011). According to Hoekstra and colleagues (2012: 2), a product’s water footprint “is the volume of freshwater used to produce the product, measured over the full supply chain.” As much as 98% of beer’s water footprint comes before the actual brewing process begins, such as for the grow- ing of ingredients like hops and grain (Kaye 2011). According to the Water Footprint Network (WFN) (2018), it requires 298 L (78.7 gallons) of water to make 1 L of beer (about 2 pints). In comparison, coffee requires 130 L (34 gallons) for one cup, and wine necessitates 870 L (229.8 gallons) to make 1 L—just over 5 glasses. Tea, which requires about 27 L (7.1 gallons) of water per 8 fluid ounce cup, or half of a pint, has a smaller water footprint than beer. Beer is unique, however, due to the burden placed on POTWs who must meet water regulations (Brewers Association 2017a).

The problems of pollution and wastewater are of concern to criminology. According to Brisman and South (2014), in wealthier nations with reliable water supplies, water is mis- used and disregarded in a variety of ways, including behaviors that contribute to pollution and waste. This is especially true for the brewing industry in all of its varieties (from home brew- ing to microbrewing). While green criminology has devoted considerable attention to issues regarding water pollution, scarcity, and security (e.g., Brisman et al. 2016, 2018; McClanahan 2014; McClanahan et  al. 2015), it has not contemplated pollution and waste in the brewing industry and the time is ripe for such an analysis given the explosion of craft brewing in the US.

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Criminological Context

According to Burns and Lynch (2004), the appropriate starting place for the criminologi- cal study of the environment is with Edwin Sutherland’s conceptualization of white-collar crime in the 1940s. Sutherland’s influential work brought attention to crimes committed by those higher in the socioeconomic pecking order, which included criminal violations by 70 of the largest corporations in the US at the time (Sutherland et al. 1983). Since his initial framework, efforts have been made to distinguish “corporate crime” and “white- collar crime” (Burns and Lynch 2004). For example, Frank and Lynch (1992) explain that whereas “white-collar crimes” are carried out for personal gain, “corporate crimes” are committed for the purpose of corporate benefit, though the individual may also profit in an indirect manner. When discussing corporate crimes, typically only the corporation is men- tioned, as often times, many individuals are involved in the crime. Depending on the cir- cumstances, an environmental crime may be a “corporate crime,” a “white-collar crime,” both or neither (Burns and Lynch 2004).

Environmental harm has been the subject of study across academic disciplines—from the natural sciences to the social sciences to the humanities (South 2014). Over the last three decades, however, great interest in diverse environmental concerns has created a blossoming subfield within criminology (Lynch and Stretesky 2003). The term most often employed to this area of study is “green criminology,” which is used to describe crimino- logical research that examines a wide range of acts and omissions that result in environ- mental crimes and harms (e.g., Burns and Lynch 2004; South 2014; South et  al. 2013; White 2008). Examples of topics considered include climate change (e.g., Kramer and White 2015; White 2012, 2018), various kinds of pollution (e.g., Brisman and South 2013; Lynch et  al. 2017; Milburn 2016), issues regarding toxic (e.g., South 2014) and e-waste disposal (e.g., Bisschop 2012), deforestation and illegal trading of endangered species (e.g., Runhovde 2018; Sollund 2013; South et al. 2013; van Uhm and Siegel 2016; Wyatt 2013), and both the illegal (but harmful) extraction of natural resources. Green criminolo- gists have also drawn connections between environmental crimes and other types of crime, such as animal cruelty in relation to intimate partner violence and homicide (Nurse 2016), as well as to sex offending (Maher and Pierpoint 2012). In sum, green criminology is not a specific theory, but a perspective that is capable of incorporating differing theoretical posi- tions or schools of thought (Brisman 2014; South 2014).

Recently, green criminology has drawn from Schnaiberg’s (1980) treadmill of produc- tion (ToP), which attempts to explain the reasons and methods by which humans create or exacerbate ecological problems. The theory assumes that economic systems, in general, and capitalism, specifically, interfere with the ways in which ecological systems are organ- ized. Two mechanisms contribute to this “ecological disorganization”: ecosystem with- drawals and ecosystem additions. Natural resources must first be withdrawn for goods to be produced and sold in various markets (ecological withdrawals), and due to the methods by which goods are produced, pollution must be added to the ecosystem (ecological addi- tions), which occurs at different times throughout the process of production. In addition, the endless expansion inherent to capitalism requires increases in the extraction of raw materials resulting in increased natural destruction. The acceleration of the ToP over time, including through technological advancements, creates more additions, as well, thereby accelerating ecological disorganization. Criminologists have used this framework to exam- ine how capitalism influences crime, justice, and law, and it has been applied to crimes such as animal abuse (Stretesky et  al. 2014) and the exploitation and commodification

413Tapping into Environmental Harm in Brewing: An Exploration…

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of the world’s freshwater (Johnson et al. 2016). This theory is instructive for the study at hand, and we will consider relevant concepts and developments from ToP to help make sense of environmental harm in brewing.

Finally, it bears mention that the inherent invitational quality of green criminology provides space for the merging of green criminology with cultural criminology (Brisman and South 2013, 2014; Brisman et al. 2014; Ferrell 2013). This is a useful connection for environmental harm in beer production since, as will be shown, the culture of craft beer consumption and production often evokes environmentalism. Yet, beer brewing (and thus, consumption) produces environmental harms and requires a tremendous amount of water, complicating narratives of stewardship and environmental conscientiousness. The intersec- tion of these perspectives has been established previously through explorations of dump- ster diving (Ferrell 2006) and other forms of environmentally beneficial activities (Brisman 2010), as well as by demonstrating the environmentally damaging aspects of consumer culture (Brisman and South 2013, 2014; Ferrell 2013). As suggested above, many envi- ronmental harms are the result of legal activities, some have questioned the capacity of criminal law to protect the environment (du Rées 2001; Nurse 2016). As such, green crimi- nology includes both environmental harms proscribed by law and those that are legal, but harmful (Brisman et al. 2014). This article considers the licit beer culture and how produc- ers perceive environmental concerns as part consumer choice.

Methods

Initially, we intended to explore environmental sustainability practices within the craft beer industry as perceived by a group of brewers. During the course of our conversations, however, one of the dominant themes to emerge was the nature and extent of environmen- tal harms taking place within the industry. Our initial recruitment of participants began in the winter of 2017. To recruit participants, we relied on local regional craft beer publica- tions, which provided a list of regional craft breweries, as well as their contact information. After surveying the list of local breweries, we contacted brewers about their willingness to participate in the present study. Participation depended largely on the availability of the brewer, as well as the proximity of the brewery to the researchers. Each participant was emailed or telephoned about the nature of the study, as well as his/her right not to par- ticipate, and if the brewer agreed to participate, we set up an appointment to interview the brewer at his/her facility. Thus, the present study used purposive and convenience sam- pling to recruit participants. The researchers focused on interviewing brewers (as opposed to other brewery employees) given their knowledge on the inner-workings of their facility.

The data come from a series of in-depth interviews with twenty-nine brewers operating breweries in the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions of the US. This group consisted of twenty-three males and three females—a reflection of the overwhelmingly male nature of the brewing industry. The interviews took place at the brewer’s brewery, and the range of time that the breweries had been in operation at the time of interviews was between 3 months and 23 years. The number of employees working at these facilities ranged from nine to over 150 individuals. In terms of annual production (size of brewery), the brewer- ies ranged from 300 to 250,000 barrels per year where, as noted above, one barrel equals 31 gallons (117.3 L). The duration of interviews ranged from 20 min to over an hour, and they were recorded digitally with the interviewees’ permission. After data collection, the interviews were transcribed and analyzed using the qualitative software package NVivo,

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which produced the following codes: energy, environment, green practice, recycling, sus- tain, treatment, wastewater, and wort. After reviewing these terms, codes of “illegal,” “pollution,” and “sewage” were added. Themes of “polluting activities” and “water use” emerged.

Environmental Harms in Brewing: Incidents, Water and Polluting Activities

Just over half of the participants (n = 15) claimed there are environmental problems occur- ring within the industry as a whole. Two of these individuals felt that larger beer con- glomerates were at greater risk of committing corporate harms that negatively affected the environment. One participant said, “I think there is probably more risk because [in larger breweries], you know, they are just doing everything on a bigger scale” (Brewer 24). This individual suggested that larger beer producers were more likely to commit environmental harms than their smaller counterparts because larger facilities were producing more fre- quently, creating greater opportunities for mistakes to occur. As another participant pointed out,

the larger you get, the waste becomes… a product of waste…transnational brewer- ies have much larger, you know, environmental impacts based on what they do. And I think that as you are smaller, it enables you to do things differently, but it also enables you to basically manage your waste in a way that you cannot be an impact. [Brewer 3]

For these two respondents, operating a small craft brewery allows them to manage the amount of waste generated during the brewing process, including proper disposal of spent grains and other material. Another theme that emerged was an acknowledgement of histori- cal environmental harms occurring within the beer industry.

Historical Incidents

Two participants claimed that there is a history of environmental harm occurring during beer production. Brewer 23 recounted:

I don’t know how much you know about beer history…one of the reasons they bumped all the breweries out of London and all the big cities is because they had so much pollution. [In the] 1800s, [the] UK became really big business [beer industry], it [the breweries] kept building bigger vats and bigger vats, and dumping everything in the river. So like everyone else is doing [it], so they got bumped out [of the city] because it comes with the smell….

Aside from dumping beer production waste into local rivers, the two brewers also men- tioned an accident that was responsible for the deaths of eight individuals. In 1814, the Horse Shoe Brewery, which was located in London, constructed a vat that held over a couple hundred of barrels of beer. Due to the immense pressure of holding such as significant amount of beer, however, the container ruptured, which created a 15-foot wave of beer into the streets of the city (Johnson 2017;  Tingle 2014). Referring to the same event, another participant claimed, “I mean people have died, they drowned, the whole neighborhood was flooded with porter” (Brewer 24). In all, one million liters

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of beer flooded the streets of central London, demolishing a couple of buildings sur- rounding the brewery (Radeska 2017). While the London Beer Flood occurred more than 200 years ago, they were mentioned by brewers and highlight a legacy of destruc- tion that has been a part of brewing for centuries; moreover, they provide texture to the interview data, showing that at least some brewers are familiar with ecological damage and human harm that has been part of the industry.

Several of the brewers reported other environmental harms within the modern US beer industry, including the aforementioned infractions by macrobrewer Coors Brew- ing Company and craft brewer D.G. Yuengling and Son. This shows that brewers, or at least the ones that participated, are aware of the variety of harms in the industry at large. Our interviews with craft beer producers revealed two types of environmental concerns within the brewing industry: water use and water (in)security, and disposal of wastewa- ter. Both of these are exasperated or mitigated by decisions, processes, and equipment within the brewery.

Water Concerns

Eleven participants reported that ther

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