Our Green Initiatives

A Commitment to Being Green

Our goal of brewing great beer has always been coupled with a solid commitment to being as resourceful and energy-efficient as possible.  Long before the words “green” and “sustainable” were part of every company’s supposed mission, we were investing in both our brewery’s future and our planet’s future with a variety of green projects. Brewing beer is, by nature, an energy and resource intense process. Our efforts to reduce our energy and water use have been an obligation, not a desire.

We are proud of this commitment and the following is list of some of the specific ways in which we have become a local leader in environmental sustainability:

 

A Fully Restored a 20-Acre Site

The Pub and brewery are located on a 20-acre site that was originally used as a gravel quarry during the 1950’s and sixties.  When we purchased the property in 2000, the back 2 acres had become a garbage dump, and the entire quarry (11 acres) had been scarred by a failed attempt to create a scuba diving site.  The sand and gravel banks were covered in green astroturf with no vegetation, and the lake bottom was littered with a liner covered by tires and concrete.  In essence, the site was dead and lifeless, scarred with fifty years of human impact.

Our first mission, long before opening the doors to our Pub, was to restore the land to its natural beauty.  We completely cleaned up all 20 acres of land and water, and began planting a variety of native wildflowers, plants, and grasses.  For the past 14 years, we have continuously worked to expand the native plants and to nurse the native prairie to health.  It is an ongoing labor of love, as anyone who has restored land back to its natural state will tell you.  The lake has now become a stopping point for many migratory water birds, and the succession of wildflowers blooming from early summer through fall is a beautiful site to witness as you sip on a pint on the patio overlooking the water.

ob-logo Homegrown Hops

Hop farm, you say?  The original garbage dump behind the quarry has now become a small-scale hop farm to supplement our hop use in the brewery.  First planted in 2011, the hop plants produced their first usable flowers in 2014.

The hop farm is a work in progress, and we hope for ever-increasing yields each fall to brew a seasonally inspired IPA called “Otis”.  There is no better way to celebrate the hard work of brewing beer than to sip on a wet- hopped ale brewed with home-grown hops that used absolutely no fuel to reach our doorstep!

We Believe in Being Energy Efficient

The network of buildings that house our Pub, brewery, and banquet hall are built with one of the most energy-efficient wall systems on the planet.  Called “Solarcrete”, the walls are made of concrete with an insulated core.  The combination of high R-value and thermal mass keep the building warm in winter, cool in summer, and result in a much smaller use of both natural gas and electricity throughout the year.  The roofing system is constructed of SIPs-structural insulated panels.  They complement the walls in their ability to retain warmth in the cold season, and keep heat out in the warm months.

In addition to having a very energy-efficient building structure, we heat and cool 50% of the building space with geothermal technology.  Using a network of heat pumps and a circulating loop sunk to the bottom of the quarry, we are able to both heat and cool the building with the earth’s stable temperature throughout the year.  In essence, heat is removed from the building in the warm months and transferred to the lake.  The inverse occurs in the cold season, when heat from the lake helps warm the building.  Keeping our almost 30,000 square feet of restaurant and brewery space at the right temperature costs a fraction of normal HVAC systems, and reduces our “carbon footprint” greatly through lower use of fossil fuels.

We also took advantage of the earth’s natural heating and cooling ability with a very simple step-a large portion of our brewing space is located below ground.  We maintain a stable temperature of 68 degrees throughout the year, which greatly reduces the amount of energy required to keep our beer cold.  The intense temperature swings we experience in the Midwest are not felt at all in our “beer bunker”, very similar to the old German breweries that were built into the sides of the mountains and hills long before the invention of modern refrigeration.

water

We Use the Cleanest of Water

The large use of water is a necessary part of brewing great beer.  Generally speaking, it takes 4-5 gallons of water to produce one gallon of beer.  This resource-intensive fact constantly pushes us to reduce our water usage.  We use reverse-osmosis technology to filter our brewing water.  This process creates a certain amount of waste water, which we save and re-use to wash our brewing tanks and floors.  Any excess water is returned to the quarry behind the brewery, which is then used for irrigating our hop farm in the summer.  We have partnered with the Natural Resources Defense Council by taking the Clean Water Pledge to stand up for clean water.

recycle

A Commitment To Recycling

We are committed to recycling organic waste generated at our brewpub.  Rather than being landfilled, our spent grain provides animal feed for a local farm as well as on-site compost.  Our waste management company, Prairieland, hauls the food waste from our pub to a local composting facility.  We are proud to be founding members of the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition, whose mission is to advance food scrap composting in the state of Illinois.