Eco-friendly beer fest celebrates Earth Day

It’s beer with a message.

In celebration of Earth Day, Duke’s Alehouse and Kitchen has partnered with the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County to host an afternoon sampling of eco-friendly beers and Duke’s “small bites.”

Basically, a variety of beers from breweries throughout the area will be paired with food stations in a buffet style, said Zak Dolezal, general manager and chef for the restaurant.

“It’s a good way to get people to come in and learn a bit about these extra efforts these breweries are doing that most breweries aren’t doing,” Dolezal said. “They can make their buying decisions more educated.”

The Eco-Friendly Food and Beer Tasting takes place from 3 to 6 p.m. April 27 at Duke’s, 110 N. Main St., Crystal Lake. The cost is $35 a person, which includes a $10 donation to the Environmental Defenders.

Duke’s invited breweries known for their eco-friendly measures, Dolezal said. Among their efforts is the re-use of malt used to make the beers. Typically thrown away, the malt can be used for composting or making other things, such as pizza dough, he said.

Water conservation methods and organic grain also are being used, with breweries growing their own supplies in gardens, he said. Some have opted to use cans instead of bottles to transport their beer because cans take less energy to recycle than bottles, he said.

And a few are using kegs, which can be re-used, he said.

“We do as much of that as we can,” he said.

Duke’s has switched to LED lighting to conserve energy, has its used oil picked up for use as biodiesel fuel, composts its food scraps, and recycles about 90 percent of its waste, he said.

“We do everything commercially possible to eliminate waste,” he said. “The things we use within the restaurant are all 100 percent post-consumer recycled. Everything that went into it was also used once.”

The restaurant broke ground this week on its garden, used for its food supply and as a community garden.

“It eliminates a lot of waste. Purveyors don’t have to send all that food across the country and waste all the packing,” he said. “It also tastes better.

“We’re doing all sorts of things. The big focus obviously is on our food, utilizing local ingredients from farmers that aren’t using pesticides that go back into the groundwater and can harm the earth.”

The beer fest is a way to highlight those efforts and celebrate the efforts of other breweries making strides as well, he said. Representatives from the breweries will be available to provide information.

Among those attending are Stone Brewing Co. with a Cali-Begique beer; Lakefront Brewery with New Grist; Samuel Smith with Apricot Ale; Sierra Nevada with Torpedo; Goose Island with Green Line; Anderson Valley with Boont Amber; and Big Shoulders with Dunkel Weiss.

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