Beer brewers are joining forces to fight fracking

Feb 8, 2013 by

Grist

By Sarah Laskow

Larry Bennett, who operates Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, N.Y. — which, we don’t mind saying, makes very good beer — has some serious realtalk for the state about fracking and its potential impacts:

For beer, the biggest ingredient is water. When you drink an 8 percent alcohol beer, 92 percent of what you drink is water. For Ommegang, that means water from the ground beneath our brewery in Cooperstown.

But Ommegang is worried that fracking could pollute that water. As the company’s CEO told NBC, “Accidents are happening. Places are getting polluted.”

And if that happens in New York — no more beer. Here’s how Bennett put it:

If fracking comes to New York, our brewery won’t put our customers at risk.

We see three options:
Option 1: Truck in water from a safe watershed. But that would be expensive — and if fracking comes to New York, it’s not clear where the safe watershed would be.
Option 2: Relocate. We love upstate New York; it’s our home. But making good beer requires clean water, and we owe it to our customers to ensure that the beer they drink is safe.
Option 3: Close down.

Ommegang’s not the only brewery worried about this. Brooklyn Brewery (also pretty good beer!) is upset, too. But some dairy farmers in the area do believe that fracking can go forward without screwing up the water supply. Apparently we have a choice here: milk or beer? Which is not really a choice at all. There’s always soy milk. There’s no replacement for beer.

Sarah Laskow is a reporter based in New York City who covers environment, energy, and sustainability issues, among other things. Follow her on Twitter.

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