1) People’s Pint (24 Federal Street, Greenfield, MA)
Since the day they opened their doors in 1997, the People’s Pint has always had a focus on environmental sustainability. Waste reduction and composting, using local ingredients in their food and beer, and encouraging their patrons and staff to bike to their restaurant are among the environmental initiatives that have taken off over the years.
According to the description on the front of the menu, “Whenever possible, we serve food grown or produced locally and oftentimes, organically.” If an ingredient is not in season in this area, it will not available to customers (I realized this as a woman sitting next to me at the bar was denied a request for tomatoes on her grilled cheese sandwich). They use local, grass-fed beef that comes from cows on a farm in Shelburne. Their dairy comes from Mapleline Farm in Hadley, and they serve Snow’s premium ice cream (made up the street) and coffee from Pierce Brothers coffee roasters in town. They also try to use locally grown hops in their beer when they can.
Waste reduction is another one of their key, green initiatives. They use no disposable plastic and only a minimum of paper products in their restaurant. They offer biodegradable straws made from corn starch, have LED-rechargeable candles, and recycle all of their plastic, cardboard, metal and glass. According to the menu-front description, “As a result, even on our busiest night, we have not created more than one barrel of trash.” They also use brown, natural fiber, 100 percent recyclable to-go containers. And they compost as much of the food scraps from their restaurant as possible.
Additionally, People’s Pint has a program in which people can sign up and receive a 10% discount on their restaurant tab when they ride their bike there instead of drive. If the framed posters lining the wall are any indication, this is definitely a bike-friendly place!
As the name suggests, People’s Pint is a favorite for many area residents. “We get a lot of local customers,” said Josh Breitner, the head chef. “It’s a nice local spot. A lot of people here know each other,” added waitress Tina Bodensteiner.
The beer is awesome too. “We like our beer to be fresh,” Breitner explained. Their Star of the Valley beer, made entirely from local ingredients, is excellent. I also sampled a True North breakfast stout, a black IPA called the Midnight Special, and the sweet-tasting Slippery Slope (brewed with local cider, honey and ginger). Cheers to that!
2) Barrington Brewery (420 Stockbridge Road, Great Barrington, MA)
Drive up to this brewpub on Stockbridge Road (Route 7) and you may notice a large barrel painted with the Brewery’s logo, which features a tall, foaming pint glass with a beaming sun in the background. That’s right, they do solar brewed beer, and they have a reason to be proud. They were first brewery on the east coast to install a solar system, which they use to heat water used in the brew process and in their restaurant.
The $80,000 solar system, installed in the fall of 2007, includes thirty solar panels that provide approximately 1,000 gallons of hot water daily. In the early stages of the brewing process, malted barley is mixed with hot water to create a mash. The mash is next broken down into a sugary solution called WORT, which is then boiled with hops before being cooled and then fermented. “All that water is either completely or partly heated by solar,” said Andrew Mankin, owner and head brewer. Mankin also pointed out that about 75 percent of brewing is the cleaning process, which requires a substantial amount of hot water.
“The solar hot water system was a big investment,” Mankin said. “But it has paid off.” According to Mankin, they’ve been able to cut their natural gas usage in half. And, as he explained, because they no longer have to heat their water as much as they used to, they have been able to save on air conditioning electric usage, an added bonus that they didn’t initially calculate. They are also looking at upgrading their air conditioning to a more energy efficient model.
“When we built Crissey Farm [the adjoining banquet facility] we had to make a decision on investing in green technology,” said Mankin. “At some point you’ve got to put your money where your mouth is, and we did.”
The solar brewing aspect has also peaked customer interest. “That part of it has been a plus,” Mankin said.
The restaurant serves homemade dishes, incorporating local, seasonal ingredients whenever possible, including seasonal produce from Taft Farms, Equinox Farm and Howden Farm, apples from Windy Hill, grass-fed beef from Northeast Family Farms, and free-range chicken from neighboring New York state. Some dishes, such as their cheddar ale soup, steak and stout sandwiches, and their famous chocolate stout cake, include beer flavors from the beer they make right there on-site. In addition, they make three to four batches of beer seasonally (usually in the fall) using hops that they grow.
And if that wasn’t enough, they also emphasize recycling as much as possible. “We’ve been able to cut our amount of garbage in half because of all our recycling,” Mankin explained.