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Small Brewery Relies on the Sun

With the installation of their new photovoltaic system, Barrington Brewery achieves high level of environmental responsibility

These precious, sunny, early spring days are fueling more than just snowmelt and tree buds: they are brewing beer. “Solar Brewed Beer” has been the apt slogan at Barrington Brewery Restaurant and Crissey Farm Banquet House since 2007, but now, with the addition of a 480-panel photovoltaic system, both facilities on Rt. 7 in Great Barrington are more than 85% solar powered.

“For a relatively small, local brewery, this installation is a huge investment,” says brewer and co-owner Andrew Mankin. All of the beer is produced on site, and most is sold at the restaurant, with limited distribution as Berkshire Mountain Brewers in Berkshire County and western Connecticut.

For twenty-two years, the owners and staff of this Berkshires institution have greeted customers with the sunshine in their hearts. Along the way, they have added recycling initiatives, used repurposed materials in their buildings, and fed spent brewing grain to local beef cattle, but now they are greening up their environmental stewardship even more.

Happ calls this photovoltaic array, which can be seen on the north side of the restaurant parking lot, the “crown jewel of our greenness.” In 2007, they installed a 30-panel, solar hot water system on the roof and decreased their natural gas usage by 50%. The solar hot water system heats all of the hot water for not only the brewery, but also for hand washing and dishwashing in the restaurant and banquet facility.

The new 144 KW solar-electric system will produce 168,000 kilowatt hours annually, providing 85% of the business’s electricity needs. In alignment with Solar Plaza data from November 2016, this output places Barrington Brewery on the list of the Top 20 Solar Beer Breweries in the world. “We are on the front lines of environmental stewardship and forefront of sustainable brewery initiatives,” Mankin proudly observes.

Co-owners Gary Happ and Andrew Mankin believe in environmental responsibility and maximizing the sustainability of their business. They have joined other breweries in the United States and Europe in signing the Brewery Climate Declaration, “a business call to action that urges policymakers to seize the economic opportunity of tackling climate change,” according to Ceres, the sponsoring organization.

A truly local effort, the photovoltaic system was designed and installed by Grenergy Solar Store, Torrico Electric, and Chris Vreeland of Precision Decisions Engineering.