Has our beer been fracked?

By Matt Unger and Gianna Calisto, FracTracker PA Interns

Recently, a Grist.com article, entitled Hey! Did somebody frack my favorite beer? caught our attention here at FracTracker Alliance. In the piece, a concerned citizen questioned whether or not fracking could be affecting what many consider to be the crown jewel of Pennsylvania brewing – Yuengling. The author responded very thoroughly, but needed a map to help show the locations of breweries closest to drilling. To help identify any potential problems and hopefully allow the Commonwealth’s beer drinkers to drink easily tonight, we’ve pulled together such a map.

The PA Beer and Unconventional Drilling Map

Beer and Fracking Map

Click on the map to explore the breweries and nearby drilling activity

On this map you will see all of the drilled wells (orange), permitted wells (purple), and breweries / brewpubs that we could find in Pennsylvania as of 11-16-2014. The data was gathered from the PA DEP website and The Beer Mapping Project, as well as from a tool our map below contains that allows the viewer to measure distances between two points.

The breweries/brewpubs in the South Central and South Eastern parts of the state are located quite a long distance away from unconventional well pads. This means that Yuengling is likely safe so long as there are no pipeline or traffic incidents nearby!

Even the other areas of Pennsylvania show that brewing near areas of fracking is relatively uncommon. However, there are a few exceptions, particularly in the North Eastern and South Western parts of the state.

Select Results

  • Yuengling Brewery: 38 Miles from the nearest permitted well, 40 miles from the nearest drilled well.
  • Iron City Brewing Company: 12 miles from the nearest permitted well, 11.7 miles from the nearest drilled well. Both well sites are upstream from the brewery.
  • Nimble Hill Brewing Company: 0.5 miles from nearest drilled and permitted well

Use the measure tool on the fullscreen map to explore more about PA brewing and its proximity to drilling.

Things to Consider

The Grist article that we referred to earlier did a great job at outlining some of the risks of drilling and caveats to supporting your favorite brewery. Simply being located near a drilling site does not necessarily mean that the area’s water and air are polluted, but it is a risk. In addition to the points that Grist made, keep in mind that fracking can have other, more indirect effects on the beer industry; well pads are not the only places where effects on the environment can be seen. Spills and traffic involving the transportation of drilling resources, products, and waste pose very serious risks through the areas that these items are transported. This intense industrial activity can also give off localized air pollution. The map above only begins to highlight all of the potential beer-scare scenarios, unfortunately.

If you do feel that your favorite beer is being affected by nearby drilling activity, there are very easy things that you can do, as the Grist article explains. In the mean time, we at FracTracker will happily taste test each PA brewery’s product should the need arise!

If there are other maps that you would like to see made showing where drilling is located near you, just let us know.

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