In majestically picturesque Hood River, Oregon, there is a craft brewery that has stood out as both a beer company that produces delicious brews and a sustainably-minded business. For these reasons and more, they have been awarded the title of Best Craft Brewery of the Year for 2014 by Beverage World Magazine.
Full Sail’s unique method of business made it a prime candidate for the award. Employee-owned and ecologically conscious, they’ve found that sustainability is not only good for the environment, it’s good for business.
“Our idea of being sustainable is what our grandparents used to call being cheap,” laughs Full Sail founder and CEO Irene Firmat. “And that’s how we really like to talk about it because sometimes it can feel so esoteric, like ‘you can’t afford to do this, or that.’ But part of it for us is that because we’re an employee-owned company, things have to make financial sense. And all of the things we do from a sustainability point of view are sustainable not just for the environment, but financially as well. That’s where it gets interesting because you can engage a lot of people and not have it be, ‘I’m holier than thou’ or ‘I’m this green purist.’ No, it’s really good for business.”
Between their efforts to conserve water with innovative filtration systems, giving spent grain to local farmers and buying most of their ingredients from local agriculture, they’ve made as much of an effort towards sustainability as they have towards creating much-loved craft beverages. And because every employee has a direct stake in their business, they are able to keep to their roots after 27 years, and continue brewing beers that people all across the country seek out to drink.