Green Spirit Awards: SweetWater Brewery Protecting the Hooch One Sip at a Time

This blog entry was written by Allie Brown, former Clean Energy Advocacy Manager at SACE.

Guest Blog | September 15, 2016 | Energy Policy

This is the seventh post in our Green Spirit Awards monthly blog series, highlighting breweries, wineries and distilleries in the Southeast using clean energy and conservation to create tasty, sustainable beverages. You can read the other blogs in this series by clicking here. Cheers! 

As summer is coming to an end, I’m already reminiscing over the best summer activity here in Georgia: floating down the Chattahoochee River. When shooting the hooch (as we like to call it), there’s only one kind of beer you should be sipping on and that’s SweetWater. This Atlanta brewery recognizes the importance of protecting the Chattahoochee, which provides clean drinking water for millions of people across the Southeast. After all, clean water is by far the most important ingredient in a good batch of beer.

A decade ago, SweetWater teamed up with the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper to preserve and protect the river through the “Save the Hooch” campaign.  Today SweetWater continues this strong partnership through various awareness and fundraiser campaigns, which includes “The Big Float” – an annual day dedicated to celebrating the importance of clean water. The campaign supports both the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and the Waterkeeper Alliance and is an annual fundraiser that lasts from 4th of July until Labor Day. SweetWater doesn’t just have Georgia on their mind – this fundraiser supports over 30 Waterkeeper members across the entire Southeast. Through this campaign, SweetWater encourages patrons to “give of their liver to save the river” and to date, SweetWater has raised more than $700,000!

In 2011, Sweetwater launched a seasonal beer called the “Waterkeeper Hefeweizen” created to raise awareness about the importance of clean water in the Southeast. This unfiltered wheat ale is a delicious summer beer, not to mention that you’re drinking for a good cause. Proceeds from this beer go back to the Waterkeeper campaign.

SweetWater also brings the importance of water conservation into their own brewing process. They acknowledge that brewing beer requires an enormous amount of water and thus use methods to help conserve that water. That’s why SweetWater practices water reclamation, which conserves millions of gallons of water during the brewing process.

SweetWater strongly believes in Waterkeeper’s method of grassroots advocacy and their support to this organization will be key in the next few years as the Chattahoochee faces serious threats. Major risks to the Chattahoochee River remain as Georgia Power explores the possibly of two nuclear reactors at an undeveloped site in Stewart County along the Chattahoochee River near Columbus, Georgia.  The Chattahoochee is also at risk from toxic pollution from coal-fired power Plant McDonough, whose 1,075,961,417 gallons of coal ash can be found near the banks of the river. SACE will continue to work closely with the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper to track these issues.

It’s encouraging to see a local business step up to preserve and support clean water in the Southeast. SweetWater has set a very high bar for the importance of environmental advocacy as craft breweries begin to emerge all across the state. For that we are pleased to offer SweetWater the Green Spirit Award! Cheers!

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