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Save Money, buy good beer, support your local brewery and save the environment!

Yes this can be done and all keen beer drinkers who care about the environment should get involved.

Environment because food miles, aluminium mining is bad and recycled beer bottles either end up in landfill or require a large amount of energy to melt them down and make in to new bottles.

So how can we do this? Find you local micro brewery, save and clean all your beer bottles, then take them to the brewery to get refilled. Simple.

Or, if your brewery do not have a bottle filling and capping service. Save a large carton or bottle, get them filled at the brewery then bottle at home and put caps on using a ‘home’ cap kit (about £15).

You should find that there is just enough yeast and sugar left in the unpasteurised, natural, local brew to naturally carbonate your bottles of beer after a week or 2 storage. (It might be worth asking your local brewery what they recommend).

Your local ale?

I had the idea this morning after talking to a local, ‘environmentalist’, brewer who refused to put his beer in cans due to the devastating effect of aluminium mining, and bottles, due to the energy cost above. He also told me about how his, and nearly all real beers, could be bottled and naturally carbonated.

If like me you would like to support your local brewery, get great beer, and do the right thing, please check our Local Food and Drink map to find your local brewery and ask them about filling your bottles/cartons. It might be a good idea to go for a tasting session first if the brewery has a Tap Room open on regular dates.

This is a classic example of localism and what BigBarn is all about. If everyone buys from their local supplier; microbrewery, cider maker, farm shop, dairy, butcher, baker, each business can be profitable and much more sustainable.

Also, like the case above packaging and food miles can be drastically reduced and the money spent will remain in the local area to boost the economy and create jobs.


  1. John says:

    I read your post about refilling bottles with some concern. Whilst we are wholeheartedly in support of reducing waste and encouraging the recycling of both glass and aluminium, we feel there is a significant risk for breweries in following the process you suggest. The brewery will not be able to tell if the containers brought to them have been adequately cleaned and are sterile. If either of these is the case there is a risk of contamination/food poisoning for which the brewery could find itself legally liable. As a brewery we cannot and do not expect our customers to have the technical knowledge and access to appropriate chemicals to ensure their containers are cleaned to the standards we are legally required to meet.

    There is also a significant risk to the customer through the use of damaged glass bottles resulting in the consumption of shards of glass. Breweries and bottling companies have to undergo rigorous checks to ensure bottles are not damaged before they can be filled or whilst they are being filled. Bottling is one of the most significant risks in beer production.

    Our brewery has recently undertaken an audit of our beer production processes for the SIBA (Small Independent Brewers Association)FSQ (Food Standards) award. Our auditor made it clear to us that we should not refill any container for which we have not ourselves been responsible for the cleaning and sterilisation. As a small brewery we do not have the time or the manpower to be able to offer to clean customers containers for them and I doubt you will find any larger brewery who would be interested in offering such a service.

    Whilst your idea is commendable on a practical level I don’t think it is very workable and as stated above think it fraught with potential danger for both the brewer and the customer.

    I hope you find this feedback useful.

    • Anthony Davison says:

      Hi John and thanks for the quick reply.

      I completely understand and agree that in this case the brewery should be completely absolved of any liability for contamination once the beer has left the brewery to be bottled at home.

      The more this is made clear to the customer the more they will appreciate how professional their local brewery is. And help win customers who may worry that small micro breweries do not have the skills of the big breweries.

      As a result many people will opt to buy bottled beer direct from the brewery.

      Other environmentalists, like me, may still want the option to buy in bulk and bottle at home.

      Can you please feedback on the statement: You should find that there is just enough yeast and sugar left in the unpasteurised, natural, local brew to naturally carbonate your bottles of beer after a week or 2 storage.

      • John says:

        Hi Anthony

        The Brewery could be absolved of any liability by the customer signing a legal waiver absolving the brewery of any responsibility.

        Feedback on the statement: You should find that there is just enough yeast and sugar left in the unpasteurised, natural, local brew to naturally carbonate your bottles of beer after a week or 2 storage.

        Yes this is technically true but is also dependant on a number of factors including, but not limited to, whether the brewery has filtered their beer, just how quickly the beer is bottled, how it is stored, what container it is stored in, whether the containers are clean and sterile, whether the equipment used to bottle it at home is clean and sterile, how fresh the beer is when purchased from the brewery and the abv of the beer. Many of these factors can easily taint the flavour of the beer or cause it to go off.

        Transferring beer from casks to transfer containers and then to bottles will remove a lot of the condition in the beer mean it will be flatter and less likely to undergo secondary fermentation in the bottles. We sell beer to customers in 4 pint carry out containers but they are designed for consumption on the same day. Beer will oxidise and go flat quite quickly – have you gone back to a pint in a pub after an hour?

        My strong advice is to buy your beer locally in the containers that the brewery recommends and supplies. That way your beer will taste as the brewery intends it to and provide the customer with the maximum enjoyment.

        Support your local brewery by going to their tap room if they have one or go to the local pub that sells local beer. If you do the latter you are supporting two local business not one!

        • Anthony Davison says:

          Thanks John, very useful feedback

          My local pub has closed down due to the greedy landlord wanting to convert it to residential. I find that most pubs further away sell the beer their pub is tied to, or, last Friday, one beer from Yorkshire and the other from Cornwall. Both 100+ miles away.

          I like having a pint or two at home after work and want to stop buying beer from shops.

          I will pursue a relationship with my local brewery and let you know what happens.

          Getting a good pint is going to take some thought, care, and attention. And help from the brewer.

          In the long run however this ‘idea’ may convert quite a few people to buying from their local brewery regularly.

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