Ninkasi: Brewing Oregon valuesNinkasi Logo

Smart Energy Circle member Ninkasi Brewing seems to be the company other Oregon companies hope to become.

First: It's successful. Its products are popular with beer lovers and acclaimed by the critics.

Second: It's a leader in sustainability.

Third: It's of, by and for the community.

By offsetting 100 percent of its carbon emissions associated with its natural gas use, along with its many other efforts, Ninkasi has made a significant commitment to reducing a growing business's impact on the environment. It has also set new standards for responsible business practices that it hopes others will meet.

Nikos Ridge, Ninkasi Brewing CEO, said Smart Energy was a natural fit for the business. "Our company is glad to do what it can to conscientiously use the resources we need for our business, and finding opportunities to reduce usage or invest in offsets fits with our core purpose: to Perpetuate Better Living.

Ninkasi HQ

Sustainably speaking. In 2014, Ninkasi opened a new brewery, distribution facility and administration building. The facilities are registered to be LEED® certified under a new LEED® campus platform.

In a brewery headquarters, you might expect a bar and reception area. But what about the climbing wall and the fully equipped sound recording studio?

Operations, as well as facilities, are designed to complement the values of everyone at Ninkasi – and their customers.

  • Since 2009, Ninkasi has provided nearly 60 million pounds of spent grain to local ranchers for cattle feed.
  • Its hops all come from the Pacific Northwest.
  • The Oregon-produced bottles they use are made from up to 60 percent post-consumer glass;

If it can't find a ready-made solution, Ninkasi will invent one. Ninkasi's brewing process uses whole hops, rather than extracts, in its award-winning beers. But the hops capture liquids that end up as wastewater – and that could be used to enhance flavor.

So the brewers and designers created a new tool – a hop strainer. They expect the device to lead to new flavorful brews and to catch on with other breweries, as well as keeping water out of water treatment facilities.

Ninkasi Beer is Love logo

Ninkasi Friends of TreesBeer is love – and employment. In addition to donating more than 500 barrels of beer for fundraisers (the Beer is Love program) and hosting more than 90 Pints-for-a-Cause nights last year, Ninkasi focuses its expertise, cash and volunteer energy on critical causes.

In October 2014, Ninkasi merged two symbols of the Pacific Northwest – beer and trees – by creating Friends of Trees Pale Ale. The new brew honors the nonprofit's 25th year of planting trees in neighborhoods and parks.

Local housing has become another focus. Last year, Ninkasi helped Habitat for Humanity launch its "A Brush with Kindness" effort. The program supports veterans, disabled and elderly homeowners' intentions of maintaining the outside of their homes.Ninkasi Habitat

This connection led to sponsoring construction of a house for a Springfield woman and her daughter who will participate in the building process. The recipient said, "Building a house and a stable future ... sends the message to my daughter that anything is possible."

Ninkasi recognizes that good companies are good employers. In 2014, Oregon Business Magazine named Ninkasi one of the "100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon."

ARC of Lane County named Ninkasi 2014 Employer of the Year, an award given to organizations that create opportunities for people living with disabilities.

A client of the Oregon Supported Living Program who has worked part-time with Ninkasi since 2012 received ARC's Self Determination Award last year. Now, Ninkasi employs 10 people with disabilities through another nonprofit.

"It has been a great win-win," Nikos said.

Ninkasi's commitment to the Smart Energy program is consistent with its other values. Its carbon offsets investments help control greenhouse gas emissions while supporting Northwest agricultural operations. Once again, a great win-win.