Whether it’s on top of a mountain or under the shade of tree in a state forest, Rod Tweet is thinking about two things—nature and beer. As chief brewer for Second Street Brewery in Santa Fe, Rod oversees the brewing and blending of one of the state’s most popular breweries.
For the second year in a row, Second Street created a special brew in celebration of TNC’s OktoberForest campaign, aimed at raising awareness about the connection of forests and water—the main ingredient in beer! The artwork on this year’s cans is inspired by TNC’s Santa Fe Canyon Preserve, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary now.
We talked to Rod about the brewery's collaboration with TNC.
Second Street Brewery is a partner in TNC’s Rio Grande Water Fund. Why would a brewery get involved in conservation?
Why wouldn’t a brewery get involved in conservation?! The water we use is the foundation for the beer we proudly make and serve in New Mexico. It’s vitally important to us that the water is dependable and high-quality. We drink this water and this beer, too, so it’s important to us to do whatever we can to keep it clean.
What have you learned from getting involved in conservation?
It’s made me more aware of the relationship between our immediate surroundings here in Santa Fe and the water that we drink along with all the other purposes it serves. I was familiar with the phrase “the Santa Fe watershed,” but I honestly had never been there or understood it’s geographic relationship to our small city at the foot of some mountains and the Rio Grande, etc.
What have you done at your brewery to be more sustainable?
A number of things. For example, all of the brewery’s spent grain from brewing goes to local ranchers to feed livestock. In turn, we buy buffalo meat for our restaurants from those ranchers, the same buffalo that were fed on our grain, creating a circle in our local agricultural community.
The Santa Fe Green Chamber of Commerce installed new water wise fixtures in the brewery restaurants with new water diffusers on the fixtures to conserve water. And, our brewery equipment is engineered to be as energy efficient as possible.
We also use eco-friendly to-go paper products. On the horizon, we hope to install a CO2 recovery system, which would trap the CO2 produced by brewing and reuse it to carbonate our beer.
How is this issue personal to you?
Well I live here so, that’s a big reason. As a brewer I spend lots and lots of time obsessing about certain qualities and technical parameters of our local water supply. But, we kind of take it as a given that it’s going to be available and of good quality. When we are making a batch of our beer, we are using our native water source exclusively with no further treatment than chlorine removal.
I don’t know if that’s commonly understood—it’s part of the flavor profile of your local beer. Brewers are unique “users” of water in that most of our finished product consists of it, and if we don’t have enough, that’s a big problem.
What do you want others to know?
I think it’s somewhat well understood here in Santa Fe, that water is a tight commodity and that conservation practices are important. More understanding of its sources and what impacts these sources of our water and it’s quality would be time well spent. And, go out and visit the trails at the Santa Fe Canyon Preserve. Very cool place right in our backyard!
If you like beer, you should love forests.
Beer is 95% water. And 40% of the world’s usable water comes from forests. Help protect beer’s main ingredient. Help us plant one billion trees!