SustainaBEERity in Bloomington

A few weeks back I was at The Bishop bar in Bloomington celebrating a friend’s job promotion. They’ve got a small selection, ten taps, but it’s always good. Normally they’ve got something really special like North Coast’s Old Rasputin or Brother Thelonious. (PRO TIP: On Wednesdays The Bishop has “Cheap Pint Night”, at which all pints are just three dollars. Totally worth it.)

On this night, however, The Bishop was hosting an event in coordination with the School of Environmental Affairs (SPEA) at IU. They were studying human behavior in energy consumption, specifically with sustainability in beer production.

A week earlier, Graham McKeen and other researchers drew a baseline measurement by tracking how many pints of different beers were bought at The Bishop. On the night I stumbled in, they had put green ribbons on the tap handles of the most sustainable beers and counted again, trying to see if the impetus would change consumer behavior.

“The way we determined whether a beer company was green or not depending on whether or not they had information pertaining to the environment, energy, or sustainability on their website or readily available somewhere on the internet,” McKeen said.

That night, The Bishop had these beers on tap, the ones designated as “green” are, fittingly, in green: Brooklyn Dark Chocolate Stout, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Three Floyd’s Robert the Bruce, Upland Preservation Pilsner, Bell’s Oarsman, North Coast’s Brother Thelonious, Upland Helios Pale Ale, Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, Three Floyd’s Brian Boru, Founder’s Pale Ale. 

I talked to the folks doing the counting (and even made it on their official research notes “Guy who works for IDS is interested in our project.”) and had them send me their final results. Here’s the breakdown.

The numbers look good. Especially at The Bishop, showing which beers were sustainable made consumers change habits. McKeen acknowledged, however, that other forces could have been at play.

“While our numbers looked good, and we think we had an effect at the intervention, overall there were too many external factors and nothing that led us to believe that we would have a long term affect,” he said in an email.

They also created this quite entertaining video in the “Drunk History” style explaining the project.

In other beer-related research news, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have released a report saying that men who drink two pints can solve logic puzzles better and faster than sober men. In other words, beer makes men smarter.



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