B Corp at Aslan Brewing Co.

Beth Carlson of Alsan Brewing Co. breaks down for us how they perform so well in the B Corp program.

I’m a customer that just came in for a tour, “What is B Corp?” and “Why did you choose to become involved? 

At its most simple, a B Corp is a Benefit Corporation: a company that has met rigorous standards of environmental and social responsibility. As a B Corp, we believe in the triple bottom line: people, planet, profit. When we make decisions as a business (like how to deal with our spent grain), we always consider the impact on our community and our planet.

We chose to become a B Corp because social and environmental responsibility has always been important to us. We've been brewing with 100 percent USDA certified organic ingredients since our origins, so becoming a B Corp was a natural progression for us.

Aslan collaborates. Within your sustainability web page, I see countless examples of how you’ve aligned your goals with others to achieve some pretty impressive results, like your spent grains waste as feed for livestock, or Farmland Trust, or Sustainable Connections, etc. One of the common risks/hurdles of partnerships is that they can pose implementation challenges, such as the day-to-day demands plus all the additional management. What is the value for Aslan to seek collaborations over a prepackaged commercial service option like a waste hauler for your spent grains? 

We've found over and over again that collaborations, like spent grain recycling, working with Sustainable Connections, or sourcing locally grown food through the Puget Sound Food Hub, have always been more than worth it. It's a positive feedback loop. Taking that extra effort in the beginning to build relationships with those folks you depend on as a business creates a level of trust that you can't get any other way. Customers are smart -- they pay attention. If they see you doing something positive and trustworthy, like sourcing from local farmers, they'll feel good when they walk in your doors. Those implementation challenges are vastly outweighed by the benefits.

As the B Corp Certification is broad in terms of how you achieve its criteria, what industry specific programs or resources have you used to guide the specific methods you use in your operations? 

The Brewers Association has always been a great resource for our industry. They created a whole host of manuals outlining sustainability practices that have been incredibly helpful to us as we build out our sustainability program. We also looked to role models within the craft beer community, like New Belgium and Hopworks Urban Brewery -- their guidance and advice has been invaluable.

According to the Brewers Association, many craft brewers are around 7 barrels of water for one barrel of beer, do you measure this ratio at your brewery and if so what is your current performance at? Do you consider this an important performance indicator? How does this guide your investments into future equipment/infrastructure? 

Brewing can be a very water-intensive process, so yes, water usage is an important indicator. We're a little bit higher than average, at about 8.5 barrels of water per barrel of beer. But with every passing year, we have reduced our water usage. We just switched to a new brewhouse that we're predicting will help us use water even more efficiently.

You are amongst the top performers in the Environment category, what are the projects/efforts you’ve engaged in that have enabled such high performance in this category? 

When we designed our brewpub, we did so with the environment in mind. We chose the energy and resource efficient options when we picked out building materials, light fixtures, toilets, and so on. We compost everything we possibly can, recycle everything we possibly can, and throw things in the garbage as a last resort.

We track our resource consumption and set reduction targets. We encourage our employees and customers to commute by bike, walking, or public transportation. We harvest rainwater to water our plants.

We reduce our consumption through efficiency programs and offset all of our energy usage with renewable energy such as solar and wind.

We just installed a grain silo that will save 300 lbs of waste with every fill, since plastic grain bags are no longer necessary. The list goes on, and we're always adding to it. Check out our Sustainability Page for more information.

B Corp, Green Power Partnership Certification from the EPA and your USDA Certified Organic ingredients, do you currently or plan to achieve any additional third party certifications beyond or to complement these? Why are these external programs important to Aslan? 

They're important to us because they help us communicate the efforts we're taking to be a force for good. Certification from an independent agency adds credibility. Plus, these certifications keep us accountable.

We're constantly reviewing and improving our business practices, and these certifications motivate us and provide us with good guidelines. We're hoping to become Salmon-Safe Certified in the future.

Big ideas for next 5-10 years? 

We just expanded our brewhouse from a two-vessel 15BBL system to a four-vessel 30BBL system, which will help us brew more beer more efficiently. We're also expanding into another building in downtown Bellingham in order to bolster our barrel-aging program. But all this growth doesn't come unchecked. We're all about responsible growth here and continuing to make our business an even bigger force for good. With every step forward, we aim to lessen our impact per barrel brewed, and we are doing just that.

More info about Aslan Brewing Co.
B Corp Profile
B Corp Report 2016

From the Aslan Sustainability webpage

Aslan signed the Ceres Brewery Climate Declaration

Large Business of the Year Award 2015.

Pretty cool edit of the canning process at Aslan.