Montana's oldest brewery reaches a milestone this month.
One-hundred percent of beer bottles filled and distributed by Bayern Brewing now come from reused glass.
ABC FOX Montana's Angela Marshall explains how the German brewery is making a big difference in reducing its carbon footprint in Montana and beyond.
"Every bottle deserves another round."
It's a belief for Bayern Brewing owner Jurgen Knoller and Head Brewmaster Thorsten Geuer that started fermenting in their homeland of Germany.
"I just could not handle it anymore," said Bayern Brewing owner, Jurgen Knoller. "Week after week, putting 50,000 bottles in the landfill with a perfectly good container that can be used over and over again until it breaks.”
This belief brewed and came to fruition six years ago when Bayern purchased a custom-made bottle washing machine, which is the only one in the nation.
"And for us, doing the bottle washing, having the German DNA," added Head Brewmaster Thorsten Geuer, "It was just a logical step eventually to where we end up."
But the Bayern brewers had difficulty obtaining their goal of using 100-percent reusable glass packaging...
"The logistics in a state the geographical size of Montana, which is by the way, about 3,000 sq. miles larger than all of Germany," Knoller adds, "It gives you quite a few challenges to overcome.”
... until recently.
Bayern began working with Conscious Container out of Reno, Nevada and Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative's Bottledrop Program in Portland, Oregon to collect beer bottles and have them shipped to Missoula.
To date, Bayern has received 87,000 out-of-state bottles for washing, refilling, and reusing.
"And your part in this process is easy. All you have to do is bring your qualifying bottles back to Bayern Brewery," said ABC FOX Montana's Angela Marshall. "And there's even an incentive. And I chose to spend mine on a beer."
And as you sip your beer, Bayern takes care of the rest, washing your qualifying 12 oz. brown glass bottles...
"Pre-spraying to get most of the soil off of the bottle," Geuer says. "Then, there's a soaking, which will help to get the label off...”
No twist off.
No sticker labels.
“Then, we do an inside cleaning and serialization," Geuer continues. "The next step is get the heat out of the glass, so bring cold water into play. And the last step is a chemical sanitation and the bottle comes out as good as new.”
... washing up to five-thousand bottles an hour.
Knoller adds, "So not only will we be keeping a lot of glass out of the landfill in Montana, we're also helping out our fellow brewers in Oregon, and if we keep on this pace, we may even be able to help provide our local brewers with sustainable glass."
... so that you get a real green choice when you drink a cold one.
Along with its Missoula taproom, Bayern Brewing has recently partnered with Orange Street Food Farm to collect qualifying glass bottles.
You can also drop your bottles off at multiple locations across the state.
You can learn more about the EcoLeague program of earning pennies for your bottles and other incentives at Bayern Brewing.