This post is part of my at the table series, where I share stories and photographs that celebrate the people on the front lines of a more sustainable, accessible, inclusive food system.
If this is your first time reading an at the table post (wahoo!), this is a series I started almost two years ago as a way to share the stories of people who quite literally put food (and beer!) on our tables. In a world where we’re increasingly disconnected from our food system, I wanted to shed a little light on where our food comes from and how it’s produced, and to celebrate the companies who are going above and beyond to create sustainable, socially responsible products. (You can dig into the archives here!)
Today, I’m taking you behind the scenes at Full Sail Brewing Co. in Hood River, Oregon. We shot these photos more than a year ago (oyyyyyy, I know) so I’m beyond excited to finally be able to share them with you. Full Sail is one of those rare companies that builds corporate responsibility into just about everything they do – and I love them for it.
Also, they make delicious, delicious beer.
Full Sail started in 1987 as Hood River Brewery, a small brewing operation in Hood River, Oregon, about an hour east of Portland on the Columbia river. They took over an old cannery for their production space, and in their first year they put up 287 barrels of beer.
Today, Full Sail produces more than 100,000 barrels of beer each year, and they’ve expanded down the block to a larger facility (although they still use that original cannery space as part of their brewery).
Everywhere you look at the Full Sail Brewery, you’ll see their commitment to sustainability: all of their glass and cardboard is recycled, they’re partially powered by renewable wind energy, and even their used plastic wrap is recycled (it’s sent to a company that turns it into decking).
Full Sail also operates on a four-shift work week, which means they work in four 10-hour shifts as opposed to shorter, more frequent shifts throughout the week. This system was designed with sustainability in mind – since its implementation, they’ve reduced power consumption and water use by 20 percent (and created a three day weekend for employees!)
But the BEER! Let’s talk about the beer.
More than 90% of Full Sail ingredients are sourced from within 100 miles of the brewery, and they don’t add any funny business like corn syrup, sugars, or artificial coloring to their beers. The Full Sail staff even takes a field trip each year to one of the hop farms they source from so that every employee stays personally connected to the supply chain and the brewing process.
The thing that most impressed me about Full Sail, though? Their commitment to water conservation.
In 2011, Full Sail installed a mash filter that reduced their water use by a MILLION gallons (stating the obvious, but, umm, that’s A LOT of gallons). The better filter means brewers can extract more liquid from the grain, which means they’re left with half as many truckloads of recycling once the process is finished.
Where average breweries use up to eight gallons of water to produce a single gallon of beer, Full Sail uses less than three. They’ve reduced their overall water consumption by more than 3.1 million gallons a year, and the water they DO use is sent through Full Sail’s own water treatment plant, where the solids are filtered out to be sent to local farmers as feed. (PS – You can check out Full Sail’s short video about their sustainability practices here if you’re interested).
Shall we look at some pictures? I think YES.
(Bonus points for grabbing a Full Sail Amber from the fridge first).
A huge thank you to Maren at Full Sail Brewing Co. for showing me around the brewery and for supporting sustainable food systems! To learn more about Full Sail, visit their website, or check their store locator to find a distributor near you.