Fat Tire Just Became the First Nationally Available Carbon-Neutral Beer in the US

It's a big step in the right direction.

fat tire carbon neutral

New Belgium Brewing was one of a handful of US craft breweries purchased by big beer companies in late 2019, prior to the pandemic arriving in the United States. Now under the guidance of Lion Little World Beverages, a subsidiary of Japanese drink giant Kirin, New Belgium has announced that its Fat Tire Amber Ale has been certified as the US's first nationally-distributed carbon-neutral beer. 

Of course, craft breweries have released carbon neutral beers on a smaller level, but the release of a nationally distributed beer, especially one as familiar as Fat Tire, is significant as the world continues to grapple with the climate crisis. Breweries are, like most industries, contributing to climate change and pollution. Focusing on renewable energy sources, wastewater recycling, and the recycling of spent grains have been areas of focus for many breweries looking to improve their impact on the environment. Nonetheless, committing to going carbon neutral is a big step, especially for a beer produced in such high volume. 

The beer was certified by SCS Global Services under the PAS 2060 Carbon Neutrality standard. For New Belgium, making this possible was in part a big push to use renewable energy sources. The brewery uses wind power and produces electricity with "solar and biogas technology."

Those are significant investments, but there's still plenty of emissions that come with the production of beer. New Belgium is purchasing carbon offsets to offset the rest of the emissions produced during production. The brewery's "Drink Sustainably" website notes that offsets are of varying quality. New Belgium says it's holding itself to high standards in the offsets it purchases to avoid issues like double-counting and ensuring that there's a high level of transparency.

"Purchasing carbon offsets is not a viable long-term plan," the company says on its site. "We must work toward actual emissions reductions in our operations and supply chains. While we have already made numerous investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy, we still have a long way to go." Those steps include expanding its renewable energy use, "increased investments in energy efficiency," "improving refrigerant management," philanthropic contributions toward climate justice, an increased number of hybrid electric vehicles in the company fleet, its "green supplier program," and support for "smart and aggressive climate and energy policies."

It's not a small to-do list, but it's a solid blueprint of how breweries can work toward climate justice and reducing their carbon footprint as the climate crisis accelerates. 

The certification is one step on the path for New Belgium's goal to be a completely carbon neutral brewery by 2030. “We call upon Congress to address the looming climate crisis as part of the country’s COVID-19 economic response plans,” said New Belgium Brewing CEO Steve Fechheimer. “SCS’ certification of Fat Tire under the PAS 2060 standard reinforces our alignment with businesses around the globe who are working to build a low carbon economy and ensure a sustainable future for all.”

Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email and subscribe here for our YouTube channel to get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow him @dlukenelson.