It’s more than just an independent brewery, brewing beers for Australian palates. Every beer is brewed to do its bit for the Australian environment. That’s why ‘One for the Country’ is more than just a tagline at Hawke’s Brewing Co.
Giving back is in the DNA of Hawke’s Brewing Co. When Nathan Lennon and David Gibson approached former PM Bob Hawke with the goal of co-founding a brewery with them, he agreed, but on one condition: that 100% of his share of royalties go to Landcare Australia, the environmental charity he helped set up in 1989. For Bob, beer would become an even more significant piece of his legacy, with every pint, pot and tinnie ensuring his influence would continue to support our most precious asset – the planet.
While Nathan and David had always been set on creating a beer business with purpose, Bob’s decision to connect Landcare Australia set the moral and ethical foundation for how Hawke’s would be operated as a whole.
“Bob’s early decision making”, Nathan says, “shaped not only the direction of the business but how we do business. Our ESG [Environmental, Social & Governance] responsibilities are something we take seriously. Starting out with a plan for sustainability and impact creates the set of values to which you live by. It informs the decisions you make. Not just doing it because everyone is doing it. It’s what Bob wanted but it’s also what we always wanted.”
Since partnering with Landcare Australia in 2017, Hawke’s Brewing Co. has raised over $400,000, with these funds supporting on-the-ground projects across the country, such as bushfire recovery for native and endangered wildlife, volunteer groups removing invasive species and restoring native habitats, mangrove regeneration and Woodfordia’s native plant nursery.
But it was the construction of their brewery in Marrickville in 2021 that opened up a whole new world of opportunities for Hawke’s Brewing Co. It also shaped Brodie French’s role as head brewer into something even more innovative than perfecting flavour profiles of crisp, clean froths (although that’s definitely still in the job description).
“From day zero, Brodie tasked himself with a responsibility to brew with minimal environmental impact,” Nathan said.
What’s the impact of a brewery? And how has Hawke’s been trimming it down? The three main areas are energy consumption, water usage and waste, and they’ve already made steps in the right direction.
For a start, the facility’s 100kw rooftop solar farm powers most of the brewery’s operations, with additional energy purchased via a renewables-focused, community-owned provider. Then there are the little things, like an electric forklift and steam-powered boiler.
That brings us to water. It’s no surprise that breweries use a lot of it. Hawke’s has improved water use efficiency to the point where only 3.3L of water is needed for every 1L of beer produced. That’s well below the industry average of 7L for every 1L. The goal is to reduce this even further to less than 3L. Plus, they’ve got an on-site wastewater treatment system and an inbuilt water recovery system.
They’re putting in the hard yards to close the loop on waste and make every sip of beer genuinely better for the planet, from sourcing ingredients and products via sustainable suppliers to sending spent grain to feed cattle on Australian farms.
Good beer, as it turns out, can also grow great lettuce, with the potential towards lowering the carbon footprint of both beer and farming industries. Alongside UTS Tech, Brodie and a team of PhD students are experimenting with ways to reduce the carbon footprint of the brewery using a carbon capture system. Essentially, capturing CO2 from the fermentation process to feed back into a hydroponic indoor farm, inside which vegetation, like lettuce, can be grown and used in the venue’s Lucky Prawn restaurant on-site.
Growing and transporting low-cal produce like lettuce, which demands large amounts of resources, isn’t efficient. The hypothesis is that indoor hydroponic systems fed with excess CO2 not only encourage lettuce to grow quicker and more reliably but also with a reduced footprint, particularly due to the limit on transportation. The farm is basically next to the restaurant. That’s some damn good lettuce in your succulent Chinese meal.
So what does a robust and evolving suite of sustainable systems mean for the tinnie in your hand? A beer that tastes good and feels good at the same time. A refreshing lager with a moral afterglow, setting a benchmark for other breweries, big or small. A beer that can be enjoyed knowing every sip is doing its bit to make the industry a bit better. One for the country and those of us lucky enough to call it home. It’s what Bob would have wanted.
This article was made in partnership with Hawke’s Brewing Co.