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#FreshOffTheShelf: Blood Serpent, Africa's first carbon neutral beer

South African brewer, Darling Brew has launched Blood Serpent, the first carbon neutral beer in Africa. Darling Brew is a microbrewery located in Darling in the Western Cape.
#FreshOffTheShelf: Blood Serpent, Africa's first carbon neutral beer

With the reaffirmation at Cop 21 that the global temperature rise needs to be capped at 2 degrees from pre-industrialised levels, calls have been made for decarbonisation and carbon neutrality. Blood Serpent could mean progress and momentum for the South African beer industry, as part of a necessary global change.

Owners of Darling Brew, Kevin and Philippa Wood, have pursued the link with sustainability and conservation, since opening in 2010. “Each beer has been inspired by an endangered creature which is honoured and supported through conservation programmes,” says Kevin. “For Blood Serpent, we chose the Secretary bird.”

The carbon neutral beer process and carbon neutral certification has been achieved through innovative brewing, packaging and offsetting processes.

Classified as a vulnerable species, according to the IUCN Red List, the Secretary bird (Sagittarius Serpentarius) has a distinct profile, quite unlike that of any other bird. “This made it the perfect choice of animal,” says Philippa, “as Blood Serpent is unlike that of any other beer in the market.”

Darling Brew teamed up with sustainability consultants Ecolution Consulting in order to ensure that the beer offsetting process was done correctly and that recognised verification bodies validated the offsets for carbon offsetting. “Ecolution assisted Darling Brew in conducting a greenhouse gas audit to quantify the carbon equivalent footprint of the production of Blood Serpent,” says André Harms, director of Ecolution. “We are proud to be a part of achieving this feat.”

Offsetting through Kariba REDD+ project in Zimbabwe

In order to achieve a carbon neutral beer, Darling Brew has offset the scope 1 and 2 emissions of the Blood Serpent process, as well as the scope 3 emissions associated with packaging. The carbon emissions created by the fuel, water and energy consumption during brewing, as well as the glass, labels and packaging during production, are thus offset with each new batch of Blood Serpent.

The offsetting process is done through the Kariba REDD+ project in Zimbabwe, with impactChoice as an offsetting partner. It was chosen because the project has emissions reductions that are real, measurable and permanent. REDD+ is an acronym for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. Its aim is to empower local communities whilst preserving forests and protecting wild life. The Verified Carbon Standard, the Gold Standard and the Plan Vivo validate the carbon offsets.

For every 16,000 bottles of Blood Serpent produced, the equivalent emissions produced by an average car driving 38,894 km is offset (4033.64 Kg of Co2-e). In terms of carbon sequestered, the offset is equivalent to 261 tree seedlings having grown for 10 years – 6,000 bottles have been bottled and distributed so far, with the rest on the way.

The home of Blood Serpent - The Taste Room - has been kitted out with tables, chairs and light fittings made from recycled items such as beer baths and wooden palettes. The brewery has also taken to reduce water consumption through sunken water tanks, water-saving nozzles and by reusing as much water as possible.

Ingredients sourced for the Taste Room are local with a focus on Fairtrade and organic produce where possible, whilst the spent grain from the brewing process is not simply discarded, but used as food for some of Darling’s resident cattle.

The team at Darling Brew is proud of this milestone on its sustainability journey but it will not stop here. “We are assessing ways in which we can make our brewery more efficient and we will continue to find ways to innovate our operations and our beers,” concludes Kevin.

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