Cerveza Imperial: Can This Beer Save the Planet?

Drink saving the environment?
Drink saving the environment? Creative Commons / Flickr User The LEAF Project
Corona's "Find Your Beach" marketing campaign might finally have a viable competitior: Costa Rican beer Cerveza Imperial has brought its "Water Positive" mission to Colorado.

Water positive? No, that doesn't mean Imperial has devised a method of actually generating water while making its beer. Instead, as Export Manager Antonio Ayales Macias explains, "water positive" is part of a project Imperial has undertaken, along with creating a new beer brand — Imperial Silver. All of Imperial's beers not only lack a water footprint, but actually "produce" water through company investments in local waterways, NGOs and other initiatives aimed at generating access to and conserving clean water.

Imperial's four-step process involves measurement, reduction, compensation and creation of positive value. Explains Macias: "We measure all of the water used to create a beer, from the day that water is given to the crops, to the production of raw materials, to its transportation to bars and supermarkets." Although only 11 percent of the water is used directly in Cerveza Imperial, Macias emphasizes that the entire water footprint is taken into account as offsetting methods are developed.

"The real deal is: How do you use less water to make a beer?" notes Macias. The majority of Cerveza Imperial's focus has been on this stage, and through methods like recycling water and gathering rainwater, Macias says, water usage for Imperial Silver was reduced by 44 percent despite a 70 percent increase in production.

Besides investing in protection of 600 hectares of rainforest in Costa Rica, Cerveza Imperial also believes it must "give water back through social responsibility...whenever we move to a new city like Denver," Macias says. So in Colorado, Cerveza Imperial has partnered with the Colorado Water Trust and is funding 50 percent of its Yampa River Project in Steamboat, will be a Gold Sponsor ($5,000 donor) at CWT's 2017 RiverBank fundraiser, and is looking for volunteers to help clean up either the South Platte River or Cherry Creek later this summer.

"Denver is an environmentally conscious city," says Macias. "We thought it was the best place to launch this new approach." In fact, Colorado is the only state in the country currently selling Imperial Silver. But it won't be the last.

Achieving water positivity is the first step in the five-year goal of Cerveza Imperial's manufacturer, the Florida Ice & Farm Company, to create "air brands," or brands that leave literally no footprint, Macias notes. Next year, he hopes to see Imperial Silver become a carbon-positive brand as well.

So if you still haven't gotten your dad a gift for Father's Day, you might want to grab a six-pack of Imperial Silver. Don't worry, Mom: It's water positive.

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Gabe Fine is a fifth-generation Colorado native and a student at Colorado College. He’s written about everything from the environment to housing justice to the postal service as an editorial intern for Westword.
Contact: Gabe Fine