Helios Brewing Company last week received the Brisbane Lord Mayor’s Award for Sustainability in Business.
It is a major win for the brewery, which launched in 2018 with a focus on sustainability, even at its small scale.
While larger brewers have sometimes needed to retrofit their processes and looked to accreditation such as B Corp and other sustainability certifications, it is often a trickier prospect for smaller breweries or those starting up, but Helios was built around sustainability.
“I designed Helios from the ground up to push the boundaries of how sustainably we could make the business and it is woven into everything we do and produce,” explained Shomer.
“During my interview I tried my best to impress upon them that responding to climate change was one of my core values, which led me to begin giving climate change and sustainability talks for the ACF and Al Gore since 2007.
“I told businesses, school kids and community groups of the importance of being more sustainable. It was therefore critical that I lead by example when setting up my own business.”
The award was a big achievement for the small brewery, especially as Helios were up against a host of other businesses in all manner of industries.
“It means everything. We work in an industry where small, family-run breweries have so many disadvantages,” Shomer explained.
“Then add trying to build your business as a green demonstration project.”
Quality is always the number one consideration, Shomer said.
“The team and I have always known our product had to stand out and be intense, bolder, dare I say better.
“I say that cautiously as we are mindful of the quality out in the market these days. From a business perspective though we have always known the products HAVE to stand out to survive.”
But being sustainable was a dream of Shomers, that he says is now paying off commercially.
“We use very little gas and electricity compared to similar-sized operations. That means we have been able to grow through COVID. We are more resilient to downturns in the market because we are green. How about that?”
It’s a lesson that Shomer and the Helios team want to spread further, which is why he launched Solabrew Energy and Environmental Solutions as an offshoot to the brewery.
“Most people and businesses want to do something to become more sustainable either to save money or to be greener,” Shomer said.
“Most of what I have done is not rocket science, you just need to take people along on the journey. Helping others with this is how we move the industry forward.
“Helios has openly shared our findings with many groups and my greatest hope is that with the Lord Mayors Award, more businesses seek out help. I’m happy to help this great community. That is how we become sustainable.”
Of course, brewing is a resource-intensive industry, but that means that there are even more opportunities to improve processes and systems, said Shomer.
“Precisely because it is resource-intensive is why there are so many opportunities to improve efficiencies. Heating, cooling, supply chains, electricity generation, waste minimization/treatment are just a few pieces of the low hanging fruit.
“These are opportunities, not problems.”