Upslope Brewing Company was started by three friends chasing a passion for outdoor adventure. The company’s craft beers are meant to be enjoyed on the mountain, in a creek or along the trailhead.
The company’s enthusiasm for the outdoors inspires their initiatives to use less, waste less and conserve more. From partnerships with organizations like Trout Unlimited 1% for Rivers, Leave No Trace and Protect our Winters to conscientious production practices and packaging choices, Upslope is leading a movement of breweries committed to brewing better as a certified B Corporation.
Lauren Farkas with Best for Colorado spoke with Elizabeth Waters, Sustainability Coordinator at Upslope, to learn more about the company’s movement.
Best for Colorado: Can you give me a quick elevator pitch for Upslope Brewing? What do you do, how long have you been around and what differentiates you in the marketplace?
Elizabeth Waters: Upslope Brewing Company was founded in 2008 in Boulder. From the beginning, outdoor recreation and conservation has been baked into our culture and brand. For instance, we chose to package our beer in cans [rather than bottles] to align with the outdoor lifestyle, and because aluminum cans are the most recyclable packaging option.
Upslope places great importance on treating employees well, using environmental resources efficiently and giving back to our community. I think those things set us apart. And now, with our B Corp certification, those strengths are more easily communicated to our customers.
BFCO: How did sustainability emerge as a priority within the organization?
EW: Since its founding, Upslope has prioritized supporting environmental conservation through longstanding partnerships with environmental nonprofits whose causes we care deeply about.
Additionally, we’ve always managed our operations with an eye toward economic and environmental efficiency. A few years ago, we decided to start measuring the environmental performance of our production facilities with the understanding there is always room for improvement. Since then, we’ve made sure to carve out the requisite time to stay on top of that continual measurement and improvement.
BFCO: Many impressive metrics are detailed online and in your sustainability report. Can you mention a few of Upslope’s eco-conscious practices?
EW: Compared to other breweries our size, Upslope operates quite efficiently in [regard to] water and energy use. Much of this can be attributed to the purchase and proper maintenance of efficient equipment. For instance, we have a very efficient boiler, which accounts for the majority of the natural gas we use. We’ve installed water sub-meters throughout our process that allow us to isolate specific improvement areas. Also, we’re in the process of installing electrical submeters.
BFCO: Where or how do you think Upslope is having the largest, most positive impact?
EW: I think that Upslope’s biggest potential for impact lies in partnership and education. We alone can’t do all that much to affect change. But when we work with organizations like Trout Unlimited, Leave No Trace, Eco-Cycle and Best for Colorado to increase awareness of and engagement in environmental issues, our impact grows exponentially.
BFCO: Of all the initiatives Upslope is leading, which one makes you the proudest?
EW: I am, personally, most proud of our B Corp certification. It assesses all of our environmental programming and looks at our impact on our community and employees. Upslope is such a wonderful place to work and does so much for its employees. I think that pursuing B Corp reinforces that and draws connections between employee, community and environmental wellbeing in a way that makes sense and is tangible.
BFCO: What is most rewarding and challenging in regard to your B Corp certification? What areas are you most concentrated on right now and why?
EW: Over the last few months we’ve been primarily focused on planning our B Corp recertification strategy. The assessment got a lot more challenging this year, and we have a lot of work to do. It’s very exciting and will definitely take a concerted effort to achieve.
BFCO: What recommendations do you have for microbreweries interested in starting their sustainability journey but don’t know where to start?
EW: I always recommend that breweries begin by benchmarking their performance with the Brewers’ Association’s Sustainability Benchmarking Tool. It’s such a great way to get an initial snapshot of how you are performing against other similarly sized breweries as well as the potential savings associated with improvement.
BFCO: Why is Best for Colorado programming important for your organization’s CSR efforts?
EW: As I mentioned earlier, we believe strongly in the importance of partnerships. We value being a part of the Best for Colorado community, and it’s been such a wonderful resource for us over the past couple of years. We have much to learn from other participating companies and hope to offer help where we can.
Best for Colorado is a program of The Alliance Center. It allows Colorado companies to measure and improve their social and environmental impact, regardless of where they are on their corporate social responsibility journey. Best for Colorado offers programming and tools for all Colorado companies, including B Corps, to improve their practices and connect participating companies with local resources, education and support
Lauren Farkas was the programs assistant at The Alliance Center.