Reusable stainless-steel kegs offer a sustainable approach to beer draft programs for pizza restaurants, and Mellow Mushroom is leading the way, according to the Steel Keg Association (SKA).

Mellow Mushroom has won the inaugural 2023 “Keg Champion Award” from the SKA in the regional restaurant category. SKA created the new awards program to celebrate leading restaurants, bars and breweries that embrace the benefits of reusable steel kegs, including “sustainability, efficiency and a fresh consumer experience,” the SKA said in the announcement.

Anne Mejia, Mellow Mushroom’s vice president of brand development, said the company was honored to receive the award. “Mellow Mushroom has had an environmental and sustainability focus since we were founded in 1974, from our recyclable pizza boxes to our vegan menu options,” Mejia said.

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Across the Mellow Mushroom collection of restaurants, more than 7,000 unique draft beers were poured from steel kegs in 2022, the SKA said. In addition, the company offers a vegan menu, uses recycled pizza boxes, has transitioned to recycled paper bags and paper straws, and eliminated all single-use plastic containers.

Stainless steel kegs’ reusability and 30-plus year lifespan make them the ideal circular choice for breweries, bars and restaurants, according to the SKA. The association created the Keg Champion Awards to recognize hospitality leaders’ sustainability programs and the positive impacts of steel kegs on the beverage industry.

Per the SKA, Mellow Mushroom’s use of steel kegs has had a huge environmental impact, including:

  • The equivalent of planting more than 42,000 trees
  • Saving more than 783,000 pounds of landfill waste
  • Saving 32,000 gallons of gasoline
  • Saving more than 283,000 kilograms of CO2e vs. packaged beer

Mellow Mushroom has been serving draft beer from reusable steel kegs for more than 40 years. That has helped “remove billions of single-use containers from waste streams every year,” according to the SKA.

Mellow Mushroom won the Keg Champion Award in the regional restaurant category. Other winners are:

  • National Restaurant: Buffalo Wild Wings
  • Local Restaurant: Clyde’s Restaurant Group
  • Large Brewery: Yuengling Brewing
  • Mid-Sized Brewery: Allagash Brewery
  • Small Brewery: Barley Brown’s Beer
  • Draft Innovation: The Golden Mill