Why sustainability matters for barrels and barrel-aging
Imagine for a moment what a world without barrels would look like. No more aged whiskey, wine, rum and other spirits that rely on oak barrels for their signature flavor character and brown color. We would no longer have barrel-aged beer, either.
That sounds absolutely terrible.
The good news is that is not the world we live in. There are plenty of both new and used barrels available to breweries, distilleries and others who rely on barrels to keep the barrel-aged libations flowing.
Celebrate sustainability on Arbor Day
However, the 150th Anniversary of Arbor Day is coming up on April 29. On Arbor Day, communities across the globe raise awareness of the need to replant and replenish our world's trees for a healthier, greener environment.
With that in mind, now’s the time to spread awareness about why a focus on barrel sustainability is also so important. We’re not the alarmist type. But continued growth in popularity of barrel-aged beer, craft distilleries and distilled spirits in general has started to put a lot of pressure on the supply of American White Oak trees.
Here in the United States, those trees are the top choice for many cooperages and the coopers’ buyers. Unfortunately, we may be headed toward a future where American White Oak trees are much harder to come by. Right now, our country is using more white oak than we’ll be able to replace.
That means fewer barrels, which means fewer of our favorite drinks, especially bourbon, which by law has to be aged in new oak barrels.
How our company gives back
This is why we here at Midwest Barrel Co. are committed to sustainability, hence our #savethestave campaign. But we’re not the type for all talk and no action. We’ve made it our mission to reduce the amount of waste that we create.
In fact, no part of the barrel ever goes to waste once it reaches our warehouse. If any barrel cannot be refilled, whether it’s a used bourbon barrel, used wine barrel or a barrel that aged a different spirit, then we find a different use for it. That could be as decor or furniture, a planter for gardens or even as individual staves and rings.
Heck, we’ve even found that freshly emptied barrels can be chunked or chipped into high-quality, 100% authentic barrel smoking wood for BBQ grillmasters.
But the effort that we might be most proud of is our partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation, a Nebraska-based nonprofit that is dedicated to helping communities across the world replant trees for a healthier, greener planet. We work with the foundation to use a portion of our proceeds to plant new American White Oak trees. It’s our way of giving back what we take from the environment.
Spread the word with #savethestave
Our company’s efforts alone won’t significantly tip the balance back toward a sustainable future in which barrels are plentiful. However, it’s our hope that our partners at the Arbor Day Foundation, others making similar efforts and our company doing our part will make a positive impact.
So, we hope that you will join us in celebrating Arbor Day on April 29 by sharing your appreciation of the many fine barrel-aged beverages out there. In fact, why not take a picture of what you’re drinking, tag us @midwestbarrelco on Facebook, TikTok or Instagram and use the hashtag #savethestave in your post!
Let’s all do our part to make sure barrel making – and aging – remain sustainable practices for many generations to come.