Austin breweries are saving the planet a batch of sustainable beer each

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Weather forecaster Sean Kelly went in search of local Austin breweries that have sustainability at the forefront of their practices and decision-making.

First up, Beerburg Brewery spoke to Trevor Nearburg. Trevor is the owner and brewmaster of the place on Fitzhugh Road between Austin and Dripping Springs.

“I’m a Texas native, I always grew up outside of hiking. I’m an Eagle Scout,” Nearburg said. “Being around all these plants has brought a lot of happiness into my life.”

As he became more involved with the craft of brewing and using local ingredients, it was natural for him to experiment with the plants that surrounded him. Many of Beerburg’s ingredients are even harvested from their own land – later used to make seasonal beer or barley wine. They even have their own beer line dedicated to ingredients harvested exclusively from their property or within the state (some of which don’t even contain hops or barley).

Beerburg brewery – air drying harvested plants

“The bee balm, that’s a local oregano, the vine leaves, that’s just a bit of wild garlic, we don’t put that in our beer,” he said, laughing. He adds that he will use everything for a different purpose. Some of the plants are picked for medicines.

“Sustainability permeates everything in Beerburg,” Nearburg said.

The Wildcraft series features ingredients collected from across the state and locally

From the furniture to the food and beer, almost everything here is upcycled, locally sourced, or handcrafted.

“All grain from Texas, all water from our on-site well, yeast from San Antonio,” he said. Many breweries ship their ingredients overseas, but not her. Nearburg said local sourcing significantly reduces the brewery’s carbon footprint, and that’s important to him.

In return, this helps his surrounding community and local farmers.

There is also a strategic and sustainable method to their harvesting and foraging – they don’t want to overdo it.

“The idea is to work with these plants, to build a relationship with them so they can grow back stronger and better,” he said. Overpicking could wipe out a crop, making it impossible to grow again the following year.

“And so not only to forge and harvest ourselves, but also to work with and support the local businesses,” he added.


Just down the same road less than 5 minutes drive from Beerburg is Jester King. It’s another local brewery that’s committed to sustainability.

Phil Green is a farmer over at Jester King, and he’s also about keeping it local.

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“We have a lot of Ashe juniper here, so we can use the juniper berries,” Green said. The beer is also brewed on site from well water.

Procuring green electricity is important to them.

“The brewhouse is entirely solar powered,” Green said. The large span of the panels on the brewhouses on their large roof is one of the first things a visitor is likely to notice.

Sean couldn’t help but have to snap a photo with one of Jester King’s top employees.

Jester King has some big plans for the future to fight climate change. “We will later build greenhouses to better control our climate and protect them from heat and cold,” Green said, referring to the struggle plants are going through in our extremely hot summers and large changes in daily temperature swings.

Decades of soil compaction from fenced livestock in previous generations, combined with frequent soil erosion from flash floods, has made the land on the property difficult to grow crops.

Dozens of Nigerian Pygmy Goats reside on their property to help alleviate and combat this problem. As they roam the property, air is forced into the soil by their hooves – the aeration adds oxygen to the soil and aids plant growth. Nutrients from the goats’ waste are also deposited through fertilization as they feed on the property’s vegetation.

These breweries have similar goals for the future: to work more efficiently and to use their wastewater.

“One project we’re working on right now is capturing all of our wastewater from the brewery,” Green said. It’s a practice they’ve already started with water being piped down their kitchen drain. It is then transported to a water treatment plant, stored and later used to irrigate grass and crops.

Similarly, Nearburg wants the sewage to eventually flow through “a built-up wetland where the water flows through a series of ponds and is filtered out by plants.” Austin breweries are saving the planet a batch of sustainable beer each

Joel McCord

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