Tuesday, I had the opportunity to visit Coop Ale in Oklahoma City as a part of Sustainable OKC's Green Drinks happy hour. Coop offered free samples of four of their beers, a tour of the microbrewery, and a discussion of the sustainable practices that they use. I sampled their Oktoberfest beer and found it to be mighty tasty.
Coop is 100% wind powered through a program with OG&E - the same program that I use. Obviously, this does not mean they are directly wind powered, but it does support the development and expansion of wind power. They have designed their process to reduce water waste and to re-use water where possible. They also use ultra-high efficiency water heaters.
One fun way that the owners of Coop Ale reduce waste is to have local farmers pick up their spent grains in large tubs. Ron Ferrell uses the barley to feed his chickens, and reports that his chickens love the stuff, preferring it to commercial chicken feed. He calculates that Coop leftovers are 30% protein. I was also happy to hear from the owner that they purchased all of their kegs from already-used sources - so no stainless steel had to be created to hold their beer (yet).
A number of local and chain eateries and bars carry the Coop beers, including the 51st St Speakeasy, Iron Starr BBQ, Coach's, Tap Werks, Musashi's, VZD's, and Sage. Apparently, a free iPhone ap is available to help you locate the nearest Coop establishment. Although Coop doesn't sell in bottles yet (because businesses are buying up all of the beer that they can produce in kegs), the public can get kegs of beer from some local liquor stores.
So if you're not already brewing your own, support a local microbrewery that is on a sustainble path by pouring a frosty Coop Horny Toad, Native Amber, DNR or Gran Sport Porter next time you're in OKC!