Sustainable Scotland: The Scottish beer with a can-do way to tackle nature and climate crises

Would you better enjoy that nice cold drink at the end of the day if you knew it was also helping to save the planet?

Well there’s good news.

Black Isle Brewing Company, a pioneering eco-friendly craft brewer based on an organic farm near Munlochy in the Highlands, has concocted a new pale ale that not only tastes great but will also raise cash for tree-planting projects at home and abroad as part of a special collaboration with the world’s biggest not-for-profit search engine.

Named Silent Spring, the beer is inspired by the seminal book of the same name which caused shockwaves when it was published 60 years ago, drawing attention to the ways humans were destroying the world.

In partnership with Ecosia – a sort of green Google that sinks 100 per cent of its profits into planting trees – Black Isle will plough half of the cash from sales of the ale into funding woodland projects in Scotland, the UK and more than 35 other countries across the globe.

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Silent Spring is making its official debut today at a ‘first pour’ event in the brewery’s flagship Inverness pub, the Black Isle Bar & Rooms, allowing customers to get their first taste of the eco brew – an organic, unfiltered pale ale with a hazy body, fruity nose and zesty, hoppy character.

It will also be featured in launch events elsewhere in Scotland, including Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Sales of Black Isle Brewery's Silent Spring, inspired by the famous environmental book of the same name, will help fund tree-planting projects across the globe through a hook-up with not-for-profit green search engine Ecosia

The book Silent Spring was penned by Rachel Carson in 1962 and is credited with drawing attention to the biodiversity crisis and the disastrous ecological effects of pesticide use.

However, despite many positive changes initiated by the book, many of the author’s warnings remain unheeded six decades on.

In the UK alone, 41 per cent of species have declined over the past 50 years – blamed on a combination of pollution, urbanisation, agriculture, loss and degradation of habitats and climate change.

Now the Highland brewery and Ecosia aim to use the beer to highlight the environmental emergency still facing the planet and make it easier for people to make sustainable choices in their daily lives.

Lawrie Wotherspoon, business development manager at Black Isle, said: “We’ve always held Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring as a foundational text here at Black Isle.

“In fact, her views align perfectly with our own approach to the natural environment and informed our decision to remain free from artificial chemical fertilisers or pesticides, which destroy biodiverse ecosystems whilst also polluting waterways and emitting greenhouse gases.

“Our own experience of tree-planting, habitat-creation, permaculture and community involvement around our market garden and farm encouraged us to reach out to Ecosia, with whom we share so many of these key values.”

Sophie Dembinski, head of policy and UK for Ecosia, says Silent Spring remains one of the most important and urgent examples of environmental literature and advocacy, even 60 years on.

“Yet too many of Carson’s warnings have been ignored, and today we are facing biodiversity and ecological collapse,” she added.

“Agricultural expansion not only uses around two million tonnes of pesticides annually but contributes 25 per cent of carbon emissions and is one of the primary causes of deforestation globally.

“We’re facing biodiversity and ecological collapse.

“By working with regenerative partners such as Black Isle Brewery we hope to remind people of Carson’s warnings and demonstrate just how much better the results are for people when we work with nature rather than against it.”

The beer will shortly be available in bars across the UK, with 50 per cent of the proceeds from each sale going towards Ecosia’s biodiversity-focused planting projects.

It will also be available to buy at Black Isle’s online store with UK supermarkets and EU distributors to be announced at a later date.

Black Isle Brewing, first set up in a cart shed in 1998, uses only organic ingredients – grown on farms without chemicals, as nature intended.

The firm employs more than 50 people across its businesses – which include the brewery, two bars and a boutique hotel – and actively encourages engagement with the local community to share its nature-focused work.

Headquartered in Germany, tech company Ecosia dedicates 100 per cent of its profits to environmental causes and has collaborated with communities in more than 35 countries to plant in excess of 150 million trees.

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