Let’s Talk Sustainability with Pueblo Vida Brewing

Pueblo Vida makes quite possibly the best beer in Tucson. Their cans are beautiful; their taproom is hip yet cozy as heck; there’s always something new to try; dogs and bikes are welcome inside, and most importantly, people who care run the joint.

So, it is only fitting that Pueblo Vida will be hosting Make a Difference Monday on June 3rd, where a portion of the proceeds raised will be donated toward our mission and programs.  Join us in the taproom to hang out for the evening and learn more about our work with a refreshing Pueblo Vida brew.

This event is one of the ways Pueblo Vida gives back to the community, and we’re excited to partake. We spoke with brewer Charlie Border about sustainability and it turns out that we have a lot in common.

What’s your role here at Pueblo Vida?

I’m Charlie Border, a brewer. I’m one of just two people in the back-of-house and I’m also the head of the Sustainability Committee.

How did you get involved with sustainability?

I have a degree in Environmental Science so it’s always on my mind. I was often the squeaky wheel, saying things like, “We shouldn’t dump this water,” and basically that got me put in charge of the committee when it was formed. Because I know what’s going on in the back where the brewing happens I am also able to make sure that changes get made and can watch out for any new issues that arise.

What does sustainability mean for the company?

As a company we focus on being better citizens of Tucson, of the desert, and of the region. With the water that breweries use, we believe there’s a moral imperative to monitor our use, and it’s something that we connect with our customers on—the need to not waste it. Our company is built on the idea of being outdoors too—each and every can is printed with the phrase, “best enjoyed outdoors.”

At Sonoran Institute we’re working to make sure people and communities have a connection to the natural resources we all depend on. One of the big ones for us is water. I know beer takes a lot of water to make, so how does your team think about water when it comes to making beer in the desert?

As a small brewery the benefits of scale don’t really play into our process. You may have heard that some big breweries have built their own water treatment plants and things like that. We recycle the water that we’re able to, and we’ve put a lot of emphasis on monitoring and measuring as a starting place. Our Sustainability Committee is officially only a few months old, and our approach is to be data driven. Making changes like installing water meters on our hoses can help us find savings that add up.

Newer breweries, and a lot of groups, tend to think in an “all or nothing” mindset, but as a small brewery we know we can’t recycle every drop of water, and that even without huge investments or hiring a full-time sustainability position, we know we can make significant changes by keeping the importance of sustainability in mind.

Being small can be an advantage too, in that we are nimble. Training staff about sustainability can be quick: with fewer of us it’s easier to make measurements and the appropriate changes.

What part of the brewing process uses the most water?

Filtering the water before it even goes into the brewing process. We know we need to upgrade because better filters are 80-90% efficient. Also, since we use hoses to clean everything we have to stay conscious—a completely free change that saves us money.

What are some of the measures you’ve taken so far that you’re proud of?

We are proud that just by changing some of our procedures, we’ve reduced our CO2 usage by about 20%. We use CO2 for moving beer between tanks, serving the beer at the taproom, and carbonating beer.

We promote the causes we care about through things like our Make a Difference Mondays and encourage our staff to volunteer.

We’re in the process of opening a new space where we have so much opportunity to increase our efforts. We’re planning for rainwater harvesting, solar power and make it a bike-friendly space.

Lastly, we’re working toward B-Corp status, which is a very important commitment to our owners. The increased transparency can help our customers hold us responsible, and we would be one of the few breweries with the certification.

What would you love to do to increase sustainability at Pueblo Vida, even if it were insanely expensive?

Achieving LEED Certification for the new space. I know it’s possible for a small brewery to achieve. The technical challenges would be interesting, and it would make a big impact on our energy use.

Our big goal is to show that no matter what, for a brewery of our size, a little work each week makes a difference, and our improvements are for the long run. All breweries should be looking at that.

Thanks Charlie and Pueblo Vida!

We hope you can join us!

Make a Difference Monday at Pueblo Vida
Monday, June 3rd, 2019 • 5-8pm
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Blog Post By: Corinne Matesich, Marketing Communications Manager