Tennessee Sustainable Spirits - Life is Brewing
By: Caleb Powell
Tennessee is home to world class whiskey, wine, beer, and other fine spirits. The craft spirit producer’s connection to people, land, and resources is a relationship in which sustainability plays a vital role. The Tennessee Sustainable Spirits (TNSS) program is a new voluntary recognition and technical assistance initiative administered by TDEC’s Office of Policy and Sustainable Practices (OPSP) which seeks to reduce operational costs and environmental impacts for wineries and wine growers, breweries, and distilleries as well as serve as a gateway to sustainability education through popular brands. The new voluntary program assists wineries and wine growers, breweries, and distilleries in improving operational sustainability by promoting best practices, providing technical assistance, and developing relationships. In addition to an on-site sustainable practices verification and member report, the program will feature a suite of online sustainability resources, semi-annual webinars, and Tennessee specific resource guides. During summer 2018, OPSP staff conducted a solicitation of spirits producers across the state for applying to the TN Sustainable Spirits pilot program. OPSP received a number of applications from across the state, and ultimately selected four businesses to work with on the pilot, two breweries, one winery, and one distillery. The four pilot members were Jackalope Brewing, Life is Brewing – Mantra, Keg Springs Winery, and Short Mountain Distillery.
One of TNSS’s pilot members, Life is Brewing, expanded its facilities in 2018, opening a new brew house in Murfreesboro, TN called Hop Springs. Life is Brewing and its CEO, Mark Jones, are attempting to lead the way in sustainable brewing in Tennessee. This is evident by how the company sought to incorporate sustainability measures in the design and build process, as opposed to later retrofitting the building after it is up and running. The 83 acre farm, located at 6790 John Bragg Highway, is a beautiful combination of an efficient brewing operation and a full circle venue. As you pull into the driveway, you can see the future homes of an 18-hole disc golf course, a dog park, and amphitheater. A 5K walking trail was completed in early 2019 and the brewery is already planning future events, including an Earth Day celebration on April 20th. During the building process, the Beer Park was equipped with LED lights, low-flow toilets, and an Auto-Chlor low energy washing system. All of the wood for the taproom was harvested from the property. The facility only uses eco-friendly cleaning products and has Coca Cola plastic recycling containers located throughout. Hop Springs also uses a Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor System, which treats wastewater inside a septic system with waste-eating biofilm that move throughout the water of a septic system. This technology extends the life of a septic system while also treating wastewater. It keeps equipment operational while protecting the environment.
It is important to be forward-thinking before a facility is even built, which is exactly what Hop Springs did with their new brew house. Hop Springs proves that it is possible to be good environmental stewards while also producing great beer.