AUSTIN (KXAN) — Meteorologist Sean Kelly went out in search of local breweries in Austin that have sustainability at the forefront of their practices and decision-making.

First up was Beerburg Brewery to speak with Trevor Nearburg. Trevor is the owner and brewmaster of the spot on Fitzhugh Road between Austin and Dripping Springs.

“I am a Texas native, I always grew up outside hiking. I am an Eagle Scout,” Nearburg said. “Being around all of these plants brought a lot of happiness in my life.”

As he got more into the craft of brewing and how to use local ingredients, it was natural for him to experiment with the plants he grew up surrounded by. Many of Beerburg’s ingredients are even harvested from its own land — later used to make seasonal beer or barley wine. They even have its own line of beers dedicated to ingredients that were solely foraged from their property or within the state (some of which don’t even have hops or barley in them).

Beerburg Brewery – harvested plants air drying

“The Bee Balm which is a local oregano, the grape leaves, this is just some wild garlic, we are not putting that in our beer,” he said, laughing. He adds that he will make use of everything for another purpose. Some of the plants are picked for medicinal products.

“Sustainability permeates everything in Beerburg,” Nearburg said.

The Wildcraft Series features ingredients foraged from around the state and on-site

From the furniture to the food and beer, almost everything here is upcycled, sourced or handmade locally.

“All Texas grain, all water from our on-site well, yeast from San Antonio,” he said. Many breweries get their ingredients shipped from overseas, but not them. Nearburg said sourcing locally significantly reduces the brewery’s carbon footprint, and that’s important to him.

This in return helps out his surrounding local community and local farmers.

There is also a strategic and sustainable method to their harvesting and foraging – they don’t want to overdo it.

“The idea is to work with these plants, have a relationship with them so that they can grow back stronger and better,” he said. Over-picking could wipe out a crop, making it impossible to grow back the following year.

“And so not just not just forging and harvesting ourselves, but also that working with the local companies and supporting them,” he added.


Just down the same road, less than a 5-minute drive from Beerburg, is Jester King. It’s another local brewery that’s committed to sustainability.

Phil Green is a farmer over at Jester King, and he’s also all about keeping it local.

“We have a lot of Ashe juniper here, so we can use the juniper berries,” Green said. The beer is also made from well water on-site.

Sourcing from green energy is important to them.

“The brewhouse is completely solar-powered,” Green said. The large span of panels on the brewhouses on their large roof is one of the first things that likely will catch a visitor’s eye.

Sean couldn’t help himself and had to get a photo with one of Jester King’s top employees.

Jester King has some big plans for the future to combat our changing climate. “We will down the road build greenhouses to have more control on our climate, to protect them from the heat and cold,” Green said, referring to the struggle the plants go through during our extremely hot summers and big changes in daily temperature swings.

Decades of soil compaction from fenced-in cattle in generations passed, combined with frequent soil erosion from flash flooding, has made the land on the property difficult to grow plants.

Located on their property are dozens of Nigerian Dwarf goats to alleviate and combat this problem. As they roam the property, air is pushed into the soil by their hooves — aeration adds oxygen to the soil, aiding in plant growth. Nutrients from the goats’ waste are also deposited through fertilization as they dine on the property’s vegetation.

These breweries have similar goals for the future: to be more efficient in their practices and make use of their wastewater.

“One project that we are working on now is capturing all of our wastewater from the brewery,” Green said. It’s a practice they have already started with water that is being sent down the drains of their kitchen. It’s then moved to a water treatment facility, stored, and then later used to water grass and crops.

Nearburg similarly wants the wastewater to eventually flow through, “a constructed wetland where that water goes through a series of ponds, gets filtered out by plants.”