Urban Beer: the first brewery in Spain producing with EKOenergy

EKOenergy’s campaign “EKOenergy for your brewery“, launched in 2016, was one of the finalists in the EU Sustainable Energy Week Awards 2018. The campaign aims at informing breweries about using renewable energy. In addition to Italian and Finnish breweries, Urban Beer became the first EKOenergy-labelled beer in Spain.

Urban Beer, producing handmade and natural beer in Zamudio -a small town near Bilbao (Spain)- started using EKOenergy-labelled electricity following EKOenergy’s communication campaign. Íñigo García, co-founder of Urban Beer, the first Spanish brewery to produce with 100% sustainable electricity, shares with us his experience with EKOenergy.

Tell us briefly the story behind UrbanBeer and what makes it so special.
Urban Beer began as a passion to develop our hobby of making beer. There came a time when we wondered: why not try to make our hobby our way of life? And this is how UrbanBeer was born, with the importance placed, not just on drinking but tasting high quality and sometimes unconventional ingredients.

Do you consider sustainability an important part of UrbanBeer’s identity?
Because of our experience, philosophy, and way of life, this was an essential aspect from the beginning. We aim to close the whole chain, although, at the moment, it is not possible for us to do it 100%. We deliver the surplus grain for animal feed, and are also in talks to use this surplus grain for composting in collaboration with a local project. We use water for cooling, which is then used for production, and we use green electricity as our only source of energy. We also collaborate with the Basque Government and EGE, an association of Basque beer producers, to obtain quality and zero kilometre malts and hops.

“EKOenergy gave us the opportunity to go one step further without having to do practically anything”

Do you think companies are doing enough to be more sustainable?
In our environment, projects are beginning to shift, but we are far from where is desired. As producers we know that the client has the power, and if the client buys more of a product with greater added value, the market will move.

How did the idea of using EKOenergy come about and what convinced you that it was the right step?
We were looking for a renewable energy supplier and our supplier, Gesternova, informed us about the availability of EKOenergy labelled electricity. We thought it was an excellent idea as it gave us the opportunity to go one step further. It allows us to use environmentally friendly renewable energies and to finance projects that combat energy poverty without having to do practically anything.

Indeed, the process is very easy. You need to ask for information about EKOenergy to one of our licensed sellers, fill in their forms and as soon as you begin consuming energy approved by EKOenergy, you can start communicating about it.

How do you communicate to your consumers the use of renewable energies and your involvement with EKOenergy?
We communicate about our use of the ecolabel in three ways: visits to the brewery, bottling and social media. We offer visits to our brewery in which we inform people of our philosophy, the energy we use and that we proudly belong to the network of EKOenergy consumers. On the other hand, the bottles bear the EKOenergy logo so that interested customers can distinguish that the product they are going to consume is made with green energy. Through our social media we seek not only to inform customers about the EKOenergy project and our exclusive use of sustainable energy, but also that our competitors join the project. We encourage our professional colleagues to join the common good as far as it is possible. It’s just a matter of taking the first step.

Do you think that consumers are demanding products made in a more responsible and sustainable way (local products, energy sources, processes)?
In general, I would say yes, there is awareness, but that it’s very far from where we would like it to be. The customers view sustainability as a good thing,
they value it positively but it is also necessary that their consumption habits change. The selection of products the public are able to consume should lean more towards companies that support this way of producing.

In our case we are not more expensive than the rest of the breweries, nor do we have higher costs for using renewable energy. We simply want to show that companies can and must make the change. That taking action does not affect your accounts at all, and that simply, for example with renewable energies, they can say: I consume EKOenergy. Why don’t you?

With green energy you can make a product of good quality worth even more

It’s no surprise then that the International Competition of Lyon, where the best wines, beers and spirits from all over the world are selected, awarded this year’s gold medal to Urban Beer’s Antidote beer. Congratulations!!

We thank Teresa Lopez for preparing this interview and we thank Íñigo García for his time in answering our questions and for his enthusiasm and dissemination of EKOenergy. We hope that consumers will continue to drink responsibly Urban Beer’s various 100% sustainable beers.
At EKOenergy we like to communicate about stories of our consumers in order to demonstrate with real cases that sustainable renewable energies are the path we have to follow. Do not hesitate to contact us if you want to know more about EKOenergy.

Written by Glòria Monterrubio
Published on 25 September 2019