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Kent Sustainable Food & Drink Award Finalist: The Ramsgate Brewery

The Gadds' have adopted a net-zero strategy as their primary business aim.

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The Gadds' have adopted a net-zero strategy as their primary business aim.There isn’t a deadline, there’s just a strong, sustained focus on removing waste from the business and reducing carbon emissions to zero. Brewing and delivering beer is an energy-intensive business and we may never reach our goal, but we will never stop aiming for it.

As we begin to look into the process of our business, from sourcing raw materials, through beer production to delivery, we find vast potential for sustainable improvements at every stage. We began this journey in 2018 by replacing an old pick-up truck with a small electric van, and we have a long, long way to go. Here’s where we’ve got to so far.

Electricity – in 2020 we installed a 13kw solar array on the brewery roof. Brewing requires cooling, and that requires electricity. The more the sun shines, the more electricity is needed, fitting hand-in-glove with solar electricity production. The other week we produced 58% of the electricity we used and, as the weather improves, that number will rise. Within the coming months we expect to have sufficient data to justify installing a further 65kw of solar panels across our brewery and bottling premises.

Direct Co2 capture – fermentation produces a fair amount of CO2 and, while some is retained as the gentle fizz in your pint, most is vented to the atmosphere. Large brewers have been capturing and reusing this for decades, but the technology has never been developed for smaller brewers until very recently. In June we’ll be the first UK brewery to install such a system, capturing 11 of the 15 tonnes of CO2 we produce annually and reusing it at the bottling site. Again, once proven, we hope to spread this idea directly to three other brewers we’re working closely with, and then to the wider industry.

Packaging – the vast majority of the beer we produce is delivered to local pubs in our stainless-steel casks, negating the need for any other packaging. However, the pandemic forced us to expand our bottled-beer sales via mail order and we took the opportunity to reuse our waste cardboard as packaging material by purchasing an industrial shredder.

Raw materials – modern craft beer is characterised by the use of bold, fruity hops grown in the US
or New Zealand. At Gadds’ we’ve long bucked this trend, championing the use of locally-grown East Kent Golding hops, sometimes to the detriment of sales. Over the years the strategy has worked, though, and we’ve carved out a more sustainable niche, showing other brewers how to do it, too.

These are a few examples of where we’ve got to on our road to net zero – as you can see, we have an awful long way to go. Luckily, we enjoy a journey.