19 February 2024

Wollongong brewery's new sustainable endeavour starts with this organic beer

| Keeli Royle
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Organic Hazy can.

New beer Organic Hazy could be the start of a new wave of sustainable beers, but it still needs to pass the taste test. Photo: Five Barrel Brewing.

A new creation from Five Barrel Brewing could be a game-changer for the small, family-run business as they embrace sustainability and find new ways to reduce their environmental footprint.

Brewery co-owner Phil O’Shea said the team was exposed to the idea that more sustainable produce could be used in their brewing practices during a trip to country NSW last year to meet the farmers who make the grain that goes into creating their beer.

“We went to one of the farms out there and spoke to a farmer called Chris who was telling us about his approach to farming and that it wasn’t just organic grain that he was growing but he was using regenerative farming techniques to improve the quality of the soil,” Phil said.

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“It was an eye-opening experience for us to go out and see what farmers are doing and that they’re doing their bit to be more environmentally friendly, and I believe that the net result is about a 40 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions compared to conventionally grown grain.”

Although the utilisation of regenerative farming is not yet common practice in the brewing industry, Phil and the Five Barrels team decided to give it a try in their new beer, the Organic Hazy before exploring if this technique could be rolled out to other parts of the business.

“Step one is to measure what we’re really doing and figure out a pathway forward that’s commercially viable for a small brewery like us,” Phil said.

“The most sensible way to do it rather than wake up one morning and swap all of our grain over or all of our hops, we can introduce it into the mix, identify the challenges with rolling something like this out and then slowly introduce it into other areas.”

Simultaneously they turned their attention to other ways the brewery could reduce its impact and saw a massive problem with can carriers, many of which are plastic and end up in landfill.

Phil O'Shea stands in front of large beer tanks.

Phil O’Shea and the Five Barrel team are looking for ways to reduce their environmental footprint. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

So they called out to the community to try and reuse and recycle what’s already out there.

“It really started out as, ‘I don’t care if it’s a pink one or a purple one or an orange one, if it comes back into the brewery and it’s not broken, we’ll clean it and we’ll reuse it,'” Phil said.

“And the response has been overwhelming … so many people have collected these over the years and we’ve received hundreds and hundreds of these clips to reuse over and over again.”

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And that’s just the start, with Phil passionate about finding ways to remove single-use plastics throughout the entire supply chain.

“There’s some real surprises when you think about it – labels, basically all forms of packaging, have some form of plastic in it.

“So we’re avoiding glues and we’re using timber and aluminium where possible; we’re using reusable pallet wraps as much as we can.”

But although the switch to sustainability won’t happen overnight or be fixed with one brew, the team is determined to chip away and find solutions to become more environmentally friendly, while being able to stay afloat and keep serving their community.

“We started Five Barrel with the view that it’s going to be a long-term, sustainable brewery, something that we can sit back and be proud of, and being a family business hopefully our kids will grow up and be a part of that,” Phil said.

“And so we need to be sustainable in all areas and if we’re going to have that level of success we’ve got to make sure that we don’t just keep taking and we do our bit to help solve some of these problems.”

The Organic Hazy will officially launch at midday on 23 February.

To find out more visit the Five Barrel Brewing website.

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Nick Hartgerink4:49 pm 19 Feb 24

Congratulations Janine. You deserve all the good things that are coming your way. Nick Hartgerink

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