While solar energy and craft brewed beer may not immediately seem to go hand in hand, the two are starting to make a surprising connection. In Trenton, NJ, brewshop owner Joseph Bair has been using solar energy to brew beer for several years now. Bair not only boils his wort using solar, but he also roasts his hops with the same method (using a Fresnel lens that collects more sunlight) as well.
Bair’s method is simple, inexpensive, and effective. However, it does require a day of consistent sun. For many homebrewers, this method works well, if one is making a relatively small batch of beer.
For those who work in larger batches, solar arrays can be feasible. Larger breweries are taking note of the power of solar as well, and are harnessing power that can be used when it’s not completely sunny outside. Bear Republic Brewery in California recently installed a PV system on their brewery to run it off of solar. Bear Republic’s current rooftop solar array is a 30 kW system, which will soon be accompanied by a 136 kW canopy system. CEO Richard Norgrove says “We didn’t do this for marketing, but rather as the right thing to do; we also want to show other breweries that it is a good thing to do,”
From the small scale homebrew to the large batch craft brewery, solar power can certainly have a place in the brewing process. Here in Connecticut, we will be connecting with the craft beer community at the Harbor Brew Fest this weekend at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport. Check out more information on the event here– we hope to see you there!