Our “Sustainable Travel“ series is sponsored by Global Basecamps. Global Basecamps is specialty travel company that helps independent travelers research and book locally owned boutique hotels, off-the-beaten path lodges and multi-day excursions all over the world. Whether hiking the Inca Trail, experiencing a traditional Japanese Ryokan, or relaxing on the beaches of Thailand, Global Basecamps specializes in designing completely customized itineraries to meet each travelers specific priorities and match their travel style.
Though beer has long been appreciated in many cultures throughout the world, over the past 5-10 years, we have seen the drastic rise in popularity of the local craft beer in the United States – New Belgium, Sierra Nevada, and Full Sail breweries, just to name a few.
With a focus on natural ingredients arriving from just around the corner instead of across the world, improved water filtration, lessening dependance on coal, and minimizing waste impact, these breweries are leading the pack of successful businesses that look beyond the bottom dollar to a healthier Earth. This often includes fair wages for employees and a better overall work environment.
But the proliferation of craft breweries that focus on sustainable practices isn’t limited to just the US. As 2013 begins, it’s worth looking to countries in South and Central America, Vietnam, and India that offer local brews which not only take into consideration the environment, but also the people and communities that produce them.
Here are seven breweries that are producing great beer while paying attention to their impact on the environment and people. Most of these breweries have flexible tour options and hostels close by.
Volcano Brewing Company, Costa Rica
In Lake Arenal at Tamarindo Bay, Costa Rica, you’ll find the Volcano Brewing Company, touted as Costa Rica’s “only Microbrewery Hotel.” Opened in 2011, the local microbrewery provides a signature beer, Witch’s Rock Pale Ale, along with beers that follow the ingredient offerings of different seasons.
Each beer starts with four basic ingredients: malted wheat, hops, yeast, and fresh water from the rainforest that surrounds the brewery. Even better, you can get a great farm-to-table meal and stay the night in the attached eco lodge along with your microbrew (and yes, they offer an “all the microbrew you can drink” option if you book a room there).
Volcano Brewing Company also has nature to thank for its views from their bar stools of Lake Arenal and two volcanoes. Even if you aren’t a beer connoisseur, wine, cocktails, smoothies, coffee, tea, and juices are also served at the bar.
Practical info: All inclusive packages start at $89 per person per night. Located on Route 142, 8 km North of Tilaran on the western shore of Lake Arenal.
- Email: email@example.com
- Phone: +506 2695 5050 (or toll free from the US & Can 888-935-BREW)
Bia Tuoi Tiep, Vietnam
With its hardwood floors and dark wall panelling, you may think you are walking into a Czech brewery when you enter Bia Tuoi Tiep in Ho Chi Minh City. But the Vietnamese founder only wanted to offer the atmosphere of a traditional Czech brewhouse, using the Gambrinus traditional standards of creating authentic craft beer.
After living for 30 years in the Czech Republic and spending 20 of those years working for a brew master, the founder decided to open up his own brewery first in Hanoi, and later in Ho Chi Minh City.
Barley, Plzen hops, yeast, and deoxidized water make up the beer created at Bia Tuoi Tiep, and you can watch the process while you sip on their light or dark offering. The brewery doubles as a restaurant that caters to all sorts of events, including karaoke. Or you can just enjoy the more traditional Vietnamese buffet, that occasionally offers a German sausage or two.
Practical info: Find Bia Tuoi Tiep in the city center, near to the Phan Anh Backpackers Hostel ,with rates that begin at 324,935 ($15.60). Beers start at 65,000 vnd (about $3), and food starts at 48,000 vnd (around $2.30).
- Address: 107 Pasteur, Ho Chi Minh.
- Phone: +84 8 824 8619,
Cervecería El Bolsón, Patagonia, Argentina
The small town of El Bolson in the Patagonia region of Argentina boasts not only amazing landscape, but TWO small local microbreweries. Cervecería El Bolsón is the newest one, opening its doors to locals in 1984 and eventually offering a combination tasting room and restaurant.
The brewery serves a wide variety of beers, ranging from traditional Pilsners to extra dark Stouts to cherry and other fruit beers. The fruit and other flavors come from the local environment, making it their very own. Since 2004, the brewery has also been certified as organic by the International Agricultural Organization and continues to work on protecting the land.
Those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance are also in luck. Cervecería El Bolsón offers three gluten-free beers made from a corn base.
Practical info: Find the brewery on the main road in El Bolson, Route 258. Cabanas and hosterias are available up the hill in the Villa Turismo, 3 km southeast of the city center. Rates in the cabanas start at $50 for up to five people. For more information, check out http://www.elbolson.com/.
- Phone: +02944-492-595
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Microbreweries are new to India, as legislation just passed in 2010 allowing for the development of local craft beer. Along comes ABC India, which has a deeper link to US craft beer than just about any other beer.
It was started by a man named Gaurav Sikka, who was an Indian student at the University of Michigan. While there, he grew to love the local Arbor Brewing Company – or ABC Brewpub – so much that after returning to Banaglore, India, he contacted the founders and asked if he could open a satellite brewery there.
After visiting, the founders of ABC signed on as consultants to help Sikka build the brewery, also helping to instill the same sustainable business practices – including supporting local, sustainable farmers, reducing the environmental impact of beer production, and community involvement.
Though the beers offered in India are similar to ones that the ABC brews in Ann Arbor, Michigan, several have a local twist such as the “Mango Blonde” instead of the “Strawberry Blonde”.
Practical info: Beer is set to be brewing in January 2013, though they are already serving food and cocktails. Check out the current menu at 8 Magrath Road, Allied Grand Plaza, Bangalore, India. Special cocktails start at 400 BDT ($5) and holiday meals at 700 BDT ($8.75). Open Mon-Sun., 12pm-11:30pm.
A dorm room at the Youth Hostel Bangalore will run you 150 ($2.76) a night, while a room with a/c will cost 850 ($15.64), and is about a 20 minute drive. If you want to go upscale, The Grand Magrath hotel is right up the road for a nightly price of around $100.
- Phone: +91 80 50 144477
Sierra Andina Brewing Company, Peru
Using water from the slopes of the Vallunaraju mountain makes the beer served by the Sierra Andina Brewing Company in Huaraz, Peru remarkably smooth and tasty. The barley and oats they use also come from the Huaraz area, while the hops have to be brought in from Argentina, the US, and Germany.
Community connection is important to the brewers, who donate spent grains to local organic farmers to use instead of chemical fertilizers. Employees also ride their bikes to work instead of driving vehicles.
Head to their taproom to witness the fermentation and bottling processes, all while sampling beer varieties including IPAs, barley wines, and fruit celebration ales.
Practical info: Visit the brewery at Av. Centanario, Cascapampa 1690, Huaraz, Peru. It’s easiest to take a taxi from the Plaza de Armes in town. Hours are Tues-Sun., 3pm-10pm. Check out the Churup Albergue Hostel, a five minute drive from the brewery, for $10 a night. Or check out http://www.huaraz.com/ for more options.
- Phone: (43) 221419
Full Moon Brew Work, Phuket
The popular locale of Phuket, Thailand saw the opening of its first microbrewery in 2010. Full Moon Brew Work crafts beers in the German tradition, but with a local Thai twist, using ingredients like black sticky rice and tangerines to give the beers local flavor.
Though the secret ingredient may be the rainwater – it comes from the Bang Wad reservoir in Kathu.
Full Moon Brew Work also provides a range of food dishes “from around the world,” including feta greek salads and grilled nordic salmon, so you won’t go hungry while trying their wheat, dark, or lager style beers. Prices are B140 ($4.61)for a pint, or B80 ($2.63) for a half pint.
Practical info: Full Moon Brew Work is located at Jungceylone Shopping Center, 2210 Raj-u-thit, 200 Pee Road Patong, Phuket. Mon-Sat., 11am-12pm, Sun. 1pm-12pm. Stay at the Bodega Phuket for B400-450 ($13.17-$14.82) in the dorm rooms, or B1,500 ($49) for a double with private bath. Hostel World provides other options.
- Phone: +66 76 366 753
3 Cordillas, Colombia
When it comes to beer, Colombia has a particularly interesting story. The country is monopolized by beer giant Bavaria S.A., which makes up 99% of the country’s beer market. Most of the 1% that remains is made up of imports, with small, local microbreweries only clocking in at an estimated .02%.
One small brewery has begun to stand out from the crowd, though, more than likely to Bavaria S.A.’s chagrin. 3 Cordilleras offers something different than the light lagers sold in Colombia such as Pilsen and Club Colombia – a pale ale all the way down to a dark stout.
Though they have to import the hops, malt, and yeast from the US, the brewery exemplifies the “drink local” ideal that the owner learned during his time living in Atlanta, GA and working at the Sweetwater Brewery. There he learned the importance of using local ingredients and investing in the surrounding culture.
Practical info: Tour the brewery on Thursday from 5:30-9:30pm, which costs 18,000 COP ($10.20) and includes 5 beers. 3 Cordillas is located at Calle 30, #44-176, Medellin. Casa Kiwi Hostel, about an eight minute drive away, charges 20,000 COP (about $11) for a dorm bed, and 40,000 COP (about $22) for a private room. For more options, go to http://www.medellintraveler.com/.
- Phone: +57 4 2327792
Read more about ecotourism around the world:
- Eco Travel Guide to Morocco
- 10 of the World’s Best City Walks
- 6 Of the World’s Craziest and Most Challenging Bike Rides
- 10 Festivals that Celebrate Local Produce
- 8 of the Best Places to Camp Around the World
- 7 Sustainable Ways to Dive into Thai Culture
- How to Plan an Eco-Friendly RTW Trip: 9 Destinations to Go Green
- 6 Things You Didn’t Know About Ecotourism
- Eco Friendly Travel: 6 Easy Ways to Directly Benefit Your Destination
Sustainable travel is only partly about your carbon footprint. Responsibly sustainable travelers are always conscious of where they spend their money while abroad, opting for local over foreign, and small business over large chain. Choosing a Volcano Brewing creation over a familiar beer on your custom Costa Rica adventure is not only a greater part of traveling, but a boon for your destination. There are sustainable microbreweries all over the world. Many travelers struggle to think of a way to make travel to Japan more sustainable, but what better way to punctuate your time there than with a locally brewed Hitachino brew?
If you’re planning a trip to Southeast Asia, stay tuned tomorrow as we highlight our Southeast Asia Indie Travel Guide – a one page guide that will get you started planning your trip.