Lervig updates us on the latest
Saturday 04 June 2022
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Restore Our Earth
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I swear, Lervig’s Chris Bateman is a walking ray of sunshine and positivity. Between noting that “with the younger generation, being more health conscious is just the direction the market is heading in”, and sharing the team’s belief that “it feels sort of irresponsible to travel to 100 beer festivals in four months” given the state the world is in, it becomes quickly apparent that Lervig’s beer is based on a sturdy belief system, that places stock in being conscious, considerate and responsible.
May is a busy time for Lervig, as it is for all breweries ramping up production to meet the demands of the summer months. But the fact that the brewery has been unable to produce beer for the last three weeks doesn’t help matters; on the packaging line, the filler broke, the glue unit broke, and the labeler blew up all at once. It only started brewing again the day before I speak to Chris, but he takes it all in his stride.
He gets down to brass tacks, telling me all about how Lervig is taking a “red hot crack” at nitro beers, a style it’s dabbled with before, but is now pursuing more seriously. The renewed interest in nitro is partly connected to the brewery’s recent investment in a carbon capture plant, a system that collects the CO2 produced during fermentation so it can be re-used to carbonate beers. Lervig, like many breweries, had a hard time getting a hold of CO2 during the pandemic; its gas provider sent letters to say it was second in line for supply, which CEO Anders Heide Kleinstrup could concede to, agreeing hospitals should be given priority. But paying closer attention to the systems surrounding a product which left the brewery in such a predicament was a wake-up call for him.
“Normally all the CO2 produced during the brewing process would just end up out in the atmosphere,” says Anders. “And we would then also have to buy CO2 from an external source which is way up in the north of Norway; they have to drive it down in trucks, and we would then use this to carbonate our beers and packaging. Having this plant will allow us to be completely self-sufficient”. Removing its reliance on an essential product in short supply, and being more environmentally friendly was a no-brainer for Lervig. The plant, which is set to get up and running in June, will save the brewery 200 tonnes of CO2 a year; Anders says that in time, it could even supply smaller local breweries as well.
“It’s something that’s only possible now because they're starting to downsize this kind of equipment,” says Anders. “Normally only the big guys were capable of buying it; it's huge, and it's super expensive. The plant Lervig has ordered is the size of just three euro pallets, but modules can easily be added on in time and with need. ”
I must stress here that carbon capture is a big brewery move, and for all Lervig is well loved and respected across the world, Chris agrees that its capacity is nowhere near as big as one would expect it to be, given its investment in technology like this. But working in export and with international markets, Chris is well positioned to share a hunch that the future of beer, generally, is going to require big brewery moves.
“We get told a lot, hey, there's these tenders going for these places, but they want ecological or green initiatives at the brewery for it to even be considered. Even if people don't believe in climate change, or how serious it is, you've got to. It's going to be the industry standard soon. It might be a good thing to force people's hand, but then again, sometimes it only takes a few to shift the whole industry as well.”
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