The brewery's commitment to sustainability runs deep. It has its own organic farm where malting barley is grown for delicious beer, as well as seasonal and bio-dynamically grown vegetables, herbs and salads for the Inverness bar. A private borehole provides fresh, Highland water for making beer, and spent grain from the brewery mash tun is fed to their Hebridean sheep and house cow, who provides fresh milk every day - closing the sustainability loop!
Today, Black Isle is Scotland's only organic brewery and a great success story, producing up to 10,000 litres a day packaged in cans, bottles, casks and kegs. The brewery is shipping beer all over Scotland, the UK and around the world from Norway to Japan.
It was the growing export market, particularly Japan, which prompted the team to look at non-returnable and more sustainable keg solutions, particularly when sending the beer long distances. For example, the brewery sends its sour beer, Rhuby Tuesday, in 30L kegs to Japan, along with its West Coast IPA, Goldeneye, in 20L KeyKegs – a journey which takes 48 days!
Mike Gladwin, Operations Director, explains the process:
"We talked to other people in the industry about their experiences of PET kegs and tested all the kegs available on the market at the time. We had problems with freshness and re-fermentation in other kegs but KeyKeg came out on top thanks to the bag technology which means that our beers are kept in the best possible condition. The kegs are also lightweight, so they are easy to use in the production environment and more efficient to transport.
We are an organic brewery with a huge seasonal and barrel aged programme, so being able to fill small batches into KeyKegs is a key benefit. However, the main driver is the recyclability of KeyKeg and the reduced carbon footprint due to more efficient shipping.
Recyclability and the fact that in the future over 80% of the kegs will be made from recycled KeyKegs is great news for the planet. Being able to maximise pallet capacities means less carbon footprint. And because the kegs are do not need to be sent back to us, it means less carbon footprint and reduced shipping costs.
Although there are other one-way kegs on the market, we believe KeyKeg is best for our beer and the environmentMore information