There's a lot of science happening in Boulder these days, and it's not just at the government labs with acronyms for names.
As nerds living in one of the most beer-savvy cities in the world, you likely already know that brewing beer is more than just an art — it's a science. From choosing the perfect ingredients to making sure it's all brewed at the right temperature, beer doesn't happen by accident. Brewers have to know a lot about their craft in order to produce the perfect pour.
The Boulder area has been at the forefront of the beer industry for decades: Boulder Beer created Colorado's first microbrewery in 1979, and Longmont's Left Hand Brewing is (so far) the only U.S. craft brewer to successfully bottle beers on nitro.
(Which, as far as I'm concerned, is the only way to drink a stout. Gotta love those smooth, tiny bubbles.)
But typically, beer is made with carbon dioxide. All of the waste from CO2 used to brew ends up in the atmosphere, posing a threat to the environment. With more than 140 breweries in Colorado, that's a lot of waste contributing to climate change.
A local company, Superior EcoTech, wants to change that. They've worked for more than five years to develop a system that converts the CO2 from breweries to vegan oils that can be used in a number of ways, from nutritional supplements to makeup.
The team even busted out some physics, coating their growth chambers with a special kind of film designed to allow only certain wavelengths of sunlight through. By optimizing the types of light that get in the growth chambers, they are able to produce more algae with less energy.
Superior EcoTech is starting off with a partnership with Upslope Brewing, where they are hoping to add algae greenhouses to their rooftop. Upslope's second location, in east Boulder, which opened last spring, not only has a spectacular view of the Flatirons — it's got the perfect rooftop for sun exposure.
By adding more science to the brewing process, Superior EcoTech could revolutionize the way breweries are run and help the environment at the same time. I love this project because it's about the most "Boulder" thing I've ever heard of: a startup using sustainable, renewable practices to produce non-GMO, vegan oils that are good for your health, through partnerships with breweries.
Even though I am about as un-sciency as you can get, I love that even beer can be a completely nerdy thing. And I love that as more people begin thinking about the different ways they can apply renewable energy and sustainability practices, they're looking to spaces in their own communities. From the brewery partnerships to crowdfunding their project through Kickstarter, Superior EcoTech is all about people coming together for the greater good, so I'm totally geeking out about this collaborative, creative and nerdtastic project.
Jess Ryan is a community manager and CU grad. She writes about nerdy things once a week for the Colorado Daily. On Twitter: @JessicaLRyan