Released on World Environment Day, Sparkke’s Carbon Zero Hero IPA is a deceptively weighty beer and the business’ first step towards reaching company-wide carbon neutrality by 2025.
Sparkke’s first carbon neutral beer tastes really good
As CityMag sits for our interview with Sparkke founders Kari Allen and Rose Kentish, alongside marketing officer Michael Haddad, a tray of butchers is brought to our table.
The beer we’re delivered is a slightly cloudy 7.8% ABV IPA, full of bright fruit flavours – pineapple and mango – with almost no sweetness and very low bitterness.
It’s very easy drinking considering its heft, and the glass quickly empties.
This is the first iteration of Carbon Zero Hero, Sparkke’s first carbon neutral IPA, brewed in collaboration with Shawn Sherlock of Foghorn Brewery, which was brewed in-house at the Whitmore and is available on tap now.
A second iteration, at a lower 6.5% ABV, is already being brewed offsite, which will go into cans. This version be released to the public on 17 June, and will be the official beer of Illuminate Adelaide next month.
The beer officially launched on World Environment Day, 5 June, and its release is the first public declaration by the booze brand of its desire to achieve carbon neutrality across the entire company by 2025.
To create this IPA, Sparkke worked with Trace, a carbon impact measuring organisation, to calculate how the carbon footprint of the beer.
There were some innovations made in the beer’s recipe design and in the sourcing of ingredients in order to reduce the carbon impact of the brew, but Kari says at this early stage in their pursuit of carbon neutrality, carbon offsetting strategies are still required.
It is Kari and Rose’s aim to build on what they’ve learned making this beer to reduce the amount of offsetting that they would need to do in the future in order to make carbon-neutral products.
“You can’t plant trees to solve the problem,” Kari says.
“Planting trees is not the global solution to carbon neutrality, and the pressure of time is so heavy, globally, that we [have developed] some phases [to achieve carbon neutrality].”
One major contributor to the brewing industry’s carbon footprint is freight – both in delivering beers to retailers, and in getting raw produce into the brewery in the first place.
On the first point, Sparkke is looking to tighten its relationship with consumers, allowing them to purchase direct from the Sparkke website, and they’ll be pulling back from supplying to bottle shops across the country.
“We’re not going to be shipping it all over the country to retailers who put it in a bottom space and then take it out and mark it down,” Kari says.
In regards to sourcing produce, Carbon Zero Hero IPA draws heavily from South Australian producers.
The malt has come from AG Schilling Co., a grain farm and maltster based in the Yorke Peninsula; local hops company Hills Hops contributed some fresh product, which was supplemented with stock from Victoria’s Hop Products Australia; and the company sourced yeast from new local producer Atomic Yeast.
Many of these producers donated product to this beer.
Facilitating and continuing these relationships will be key to net neutrality for the business.
“It’s about provenance and looking closer to home for what you need, and supporting closer to home,” Rose says.
“That’s probably the biggest takeaway, rather than getting excited about something that you could pull off the top of the highest mountain in the world or whatever, that we actually looked in our backyard to people who are doing exceptional things.
“The connection between people and community, from paddock to glass or grain to glass, is tighter and stronger as a result of doing this work.
“The farmer drove the 700-odd kilos of malted grain here for us, and then he’s deeply interested in how this turns out. Not just the first time, for him it’s an ongoing growth process that we want to work with him on.
“He’s seeding at the moment, and he’s wanting to know, from us, what heirloom varieties he needs to put in in order to keep building interest, so that we can keep broadening our range.”
The Carbon Zero Hero IPA is the first in a series of carbon-neutral beers planned for release, and the company will soon launch a carbon scorecard it has developed in order to track and make public its efforts.
Partly, this is about keeping the company accountable for its commitment to carbon neutrality by 2025, showing where it has done well and where it needs to improve.
But equally, Rose hopes the broader industry can use the information they have learned throughout the process to implement changes within their own breweries.
“This is actually about contributing. There’s a generosity to what we’re doing,” Rose says.
“A lot of people wouldn’t share, they’d just say ‘This is what we’re doing, and you can go and learn this from the beginning yourself,’ whereas we actually want to move the dial quicker for the industry.
“So if people are wanting to see how we’re doing, there’s going to be elements that are very challenging, and if they don’t have to go through that challenge so they can move faster, then we’re all better for it.”
Just as importantly, though, the beer tastes really good.
“From a flavour perspective, it’s bang on. We were looking for juicy, big flavours,” Rose says.
“The most important thing is that it tastes good, because then you’re pulling people along on the journey for the rest of it.
“We are brewers, we’re makers, so it’s got to be delicious, because that gets people coming back, drinking more and pulling through the good work.”
Michael says the beer has been an easy sell to venues around the city, who are keen to support the brewery’s environmental pursuits.
“People want to jump on the sustainability front,” he says.
“Places like NOLA… the Treasury, Light Lab, they’re so onto it, to support local industry and the concept of being able to move to carbon neutrality.
“And what it could look like for the state, moving into locally produced, small batch. Everyone’s really excited about it. You’ll see it everywhere.”
The beer is available at Sparkke at the Whitmore now, and will be available in cans from 17 June.