Franconia Brewing Is Finally Bottling its Beer, but It Had to Go Off Grid to Do It

Keep your eyes peeled for the McKinney-based beer Franconia on retail shelves this weekend. Bottles of their Kolsch, Dunkel and Wheat have already been delivered to some 350 locations throughout North Texas, including Lonestar Beverages, Central Markets, Spec's, Total Wine, Sigel's and Whole Foods.

Franconia is one of the veterans in the rather young craft beer movement in North Texas, but it's one of the last brewers to bottle beer. They first opened shop way back in January of 2008; others, including Lakewood Brewing Co., opened under a year ago and are already on the shelves.

Founder and head brewer Dennis Wehrman says the delay was purposeful. Turns out the German-born brewer only finally decided to bottle his beer as a compromise because of something else. And it all has to do with running a green brewery.

"Our whole facility is environmentally friendly now," says Wehrman. "We reuse 85-percent of the water that comes into our facility. We send all of our leftover hops to a farm where it is fed it to cattle. Bottles just never fit into our environmental focus. And I'm honestly still not completely happy with it. There's no real process for making sure the bottles are recycled or reused. There's all of the packaging that is wasted also."

Wehrman is so committed to not creating waste they don't even have a dumpster at the brewery. Everything is reused or recycled. Or it's simply not brought into the brewery.

The compromise to bottle came only after Wehrman had a state-of-the-art energy unit installed to run his brewery. Using a mix of solar, biodegradable and natural gas, the entire operation is run using a self-contained mini-power plant, which was installed by McKinney company Perfectly Green.

"We're completely off grid," says Wehrman. "It's brand new technology and we're the first ones in the world to use it."

Going off grid and reducing his consumption of energy to nil, other than that which he creates, was the great compromise that allowed Wehrman, in his mind, to justify going to bottles. Now, in a perfect world, you'd ride your bike with a big basket perched up front to pick up your six-pack. Then be sure to recycle all of the packaging and bottles.

Do it for the beer.

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