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article imageStartups finding creative uses for beer brewer's spent grains

By Karen Graham     Aug 18, 2019 in Business
Bread and beer have practically the same ingredients, water, grain, and yeast. The biggest by-product of the brewing process is "spent grains." And if not managed properly, spent grains can become a source of food waste.
Brewer's grains are the solid residue left after the processing of germinated and dried cereal grains (malt) for the production of beer and other malt products. The brewer's grains are collected at the end of the mashing process, once all sugars have been removed from the grain. The remaining product is a concentrate of proteins and fiber.
The use of brewers grain as a livestock feed dates to before the Industrial Revolution, with farms and monasteries in Europe, brewing their own beer and feeding their livestock with the resulting by-products. Over the years, farmers and agriculture experts devised different processes to keep the brewers' grain from spoiling and becoming an environmental nuisance.
Craft breweries and sustainabilty
While brewers' grains are still used today as animal feed and in composting, many craft beer makers don't have ready access to a farm, and hauling the leftover brewing by-product to a landfill is expensive. Luckily, most craft brewers are also more environmentally conscious today.
Such is the case with a number of startups in Canada and the United States. Entrepreneurs are finding innovative ways for repurposing the spent grain to prevent waste while creating a closed-loop system - an economic model of a circular economy.
Cattle eating a mixture of of feed with Abita s spent grain. Image dated: May 15  2018.
Cattle eating a mixture of of feed with Abita's spent grain. Image dated: May 15, 2018.
Abitabeer CC BY-SA 4.0)
This means that when products no longer serve their original purpose they are upcycled into new ones, often leading to nontraditional uses of materials that would otherwise end up in landfills. Let's look at a couple of ways brewers spent grains are being used today.
Vancouver-based Susgrainable
Marc Wandler co-founded Vancouver-based Susgrainable in 2018 and started selling baked goods made with spent grain flour that it mills. Wandler and his partners wanted to help the planet by creating an upcycled product while creating awareness about food waste and resource efficiency and reducing their business's carbon footprint.
According to CTV News Canada, the company, located at #150 - 1507 Powell St. in Vancouver sells a staple line of banana bread and cookies, as well as seasonal products. Baked goods start at $2.50 and sell for up to $5.
These bakery goods look delicious!
These bakery goods look delicious!
Susgrainable Health Foods
On the company's website, they assure consumers the spent grains products they bake are safe to eat and full of fiber and protein, noting that most Canadians do not even get half the recommended daily fiber intake. Susgrainable has now expanded to a local grocery store and the farmers' market circuit before partnering with Fresh Prep, a meal-kit delivery service.
Alaskan Brewing Company
Founded in 1986, Alaskan Brewing Company is a regional brewery in Juneau, Alaska. Alaskan Brewing has been on the front line of innovation almost from the start. In 1998, they became the first craft brewery in the United States to install and operate a carbon dioxide (CO2) reclamation system.
The brewery uses spent grain as a fuel in a biomass steam boiler that greatly reduces the amount of ...
The brewery uses spent grain as a fuel in a biomass steam boiler that greatly reduces the amount of fuel needed for both the brewing process and the grain drying process.
Alaskan Brewing Company
In 2008, Alaskan Brewing found a way to balance innovation, quality, and efficiency with the installation of a mash filter press, a Belgian-based brewing technology, that reduces the amount of water, malt, and hops used in making their beer.
Finally, because you won't find many cattle farms in Alaska, Alaskan Brewing Company developed a first-of-its-kind steam boiler fueled entirely by spent grain. The system became operational in 2012 and greatly reduces the amount of fuel needed for both the brewing process and the grain drying process. The brewery has a goal of reducing its overall oil use by more than 65 percent.
More about spent grains, beer brewers, startups, bakeries, Dog treats
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