At COBrew, our mission is to produce beer that’s good for the planet. Today, brewing industry emissions amount to 1.5% of the UK’s national carbon emissions. We aspire to be a role model for brewers who want to reduce their emissions, by taking a life-cycle approach to our supply chain and production emissions, and getting creative with how we reduce or eliminate them altogether. We use low-energy recipes, source our ingredients locally, transport everything by bike or EV, brew using renewable energy and package our product in reused bottles.
Several of the team had a bit of a revelation 2 years ago about the lack of concerted action to reduce brewing emissions and, what’s more, the lack of public awareness and engagement with the issue. Most of us enjoy a nice pint, but few of us stop to think about all the environmental implications of that full glass or bottle in our hand. As PhD students at the Grantham Institute here in Imperial, we had the opportunity to turn this into a year-long project, and it was so successful that we just decided to keep going.
We met as part of the Grantham Institute’s “Challenge Team” project, in which PhD students on the Science and Solutions for a Changing Planet DTP get into teams and work on climate or environmental outreach projects for a year. All of us opted for the “Choose your own adventure” group, as none of us really clicked with any of the prescribed topics. We then realized that all of us are passionate about the nice brewing sustainability area, and decided to go down the route of creating our own product, which is unusual for a Challenge Team, but it worked!
Nicky Chambers has been our IVMS mentor for almost half a year now. She’s provided us with clear direction when we felt disoriented with the project and valuable insight into the typical pitfalls of startups, which ultimately boiled down to always focus on the customer. We thoroughly appreciate her technical, business knowledge but most of all we are grateful for her encouragement and enthusiasm for the project.
Enterprise Lab support
We attended a Marketer in Residence Session with Iain Hunter. Iain was hugely supportive and very helpful with the re-branding of the business. We had received feedback that CObrew was not working and therefore held a naming workshop to find a new brand name. We are now approaching our first medium scale (800 L) brew and after successfully completing our first commission we hope to find more clients.
Advice to aspiring students
Nothing ventured nothing gained!
The team is the crucial aspect of any business, bring together people with different skill sets and, most importantly, people you like. Get a mentor, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, learn from those that have done what you want to do.