Pictured, Amy George, CEO of Earthly Labs

Not all heroes wear capes. Some trail blaze and create exciting new paths to show how beer can make our world a cleaner, more conscious place. Entrepreneur, mother of two great teenage boys, and all-around Wonder Woman, Amy George, Founder & CEO of Earthly Labs is showing the masses how impactful women can be in the world of carbon capture. She has a deep love for our planet and a passion for sharing that sustainable mindset with all that will listen. She and I sat down to enjoy a few beers made with her new technology at Austin Beerworks. What better way to show how effective a product can be then to go straight to the source? 

What is Your History in Sustainability?

George is not a newcomer to the world of green living. She has been deeply devoted to many initiatives including serving on the Board of Directors and creating the Sustainable Food Center Famer’s Market in Downtown Austin. She worked for a Colorado company that spearheaded the early designs of solar-powered homes and green architecture. This inspired her to attend business school with plans on helping evolve these concepts within the business world. Every endeavor and company she has worked with or started has reaped the benefits of her knowledge and experience.

She credits her love for giving back to others and our planet to her service-oriented parents. Her mother was a teacher and her father constantly gave back to his community. She notes, “When my dad died, which was sudden; I got a book from him, posthumously that said, ‘Make all your accomplishments be worthwhile.’ That just set off that service-minded orientation to do what I can while I’m on this planet. And I’ve been privileged to have resources of education and travel and opportunity to realize my potential. My challenge for myself is just to use those talents and resources in a way that gives back to others. That’s in my DNA, what I’m about. That’s really defined my purpose.” 

Amy George enjoys a beer with Marvis Dixon of Family Business Beer Co & supporter of the Black is Beautiful 5K runs for social justice.

What Does Earthly Labs Do, Exactly?

Earthly Labs provides carbon capture solutions, primarily to craft breweries. They supply the hardware that physically captures the CO2 as well as the software that allows the brewery to track their results. The CO2 can be reused in carbonation, purging tanks, and even packaging. The vision for this idea according to George was, “Most of the technology and policy today around CO2 reduction or greenhouse gases has been focused on really large-scale emissions and emitters. I wanted to miniaturize the software and put it in the hands of individuals and small businesses.” 

Early on, George worked directly with The ABGB and 512 Brewing allowing them to offer input and advise on their experiences using the technology. With their strategic advice, Earthly Labs began focusing on the fermentation process and began piloting a prototype system. They were able to partner with about a half dozen local breweries, like long-standing Austin staples including Live Oak Brewing, Austin Beerworks and Celis Brewing to gather data determining exactly what would benefit their process. Hops & Grain was officially Earthly Labs’ first customer. 

How Does it Work?

Quick science lesson. When you make beer, carbon dioxide or CO2 is a natural chemical byproduct produced during the fermentation process. When a brewery would normally blow off that excess, Earthly Labs grabs it, purifies it, and stores it. This process is so efficient and speedy that a brewery can turn around and reuse the captured product the same day. George pointed out, “The more you purify it, the cleaner it gets with each rep. If you are drawing down from your bright tanks, and your fermentation tanks, it should be even cleaner.” 

Typically, the world of carbon capture involves large scale breweries that have lengthy timelines to implement the process and high costs. Earthly Labs has worked diligently to create more of a “one size fits all” approach to help flip the whole business on its head. Depending on the size of your tanks and how much you produce, that will determine which system to go with. With so many smaller breweries, Earthly Labs is definitely recognizing a demand for a smaller system. The small-scale unit is named Teak and the larger, Elm. All are tree names directly inspired by mother nature and all her glory. 

Accessibility is a major piece to Earthly Labs’ puzzle. George adds, “We continue to look for ways to reduce cost. That’s been a goal of mine to make this whole thing more affordable, because it’s good for the planet.” Moreover, they are working hard to add new financing offers that will help with equipment for a brewery. If the brewery does not have the capital to spend, they can opt for reasonable monthly payments.

If you are an interested brewery, you can fill out a form here to receive a free CO2 assessment. 

Pre-Covid guests at Austin Beerworks checking out the technology in person; Photo credit to Earthly Labs

What Challenges Do You Face?

“I am a woman, and oftentimes people will go, ‘You made this? You created this?’ They want to know the ‘person behind the person.’ Now, it takes a team. It’s me and engineers and scientists and all of us working together. I would say this industry has been so welcoming,” George notes. Most of her challenges have been in dealing with the more traditional business side which historically has been a male-dominated space. She goes onto say, “We’re an equipment supplier. It is an industrial space, and there aren’t as many women as men. Just the reality. So I think that is certainly the challenge.” George states; however, that in the climate realm of business there are more women in leadership roles than in the gas equipment sector.  

“It’s really cool. I’m so honored to be a part of the industry…it’s exciting. My approach is always to see things as opportunities and not barriers. But there are limitations for sure.” 

Check back tomorrow for Part II of this article to hear Amy talk about the state of the industry, the impact of the technology on the beer, and what’s in store for the future.

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