Brewers are making beer from leftovers – and some businesses are making treats from the dregs left after brewing beer.
So much for getting wasted.
Toast Ale, a small London brewer that has also begun crafting its pale ale in the Bronx, uses the unwanted end pieces of bread loaves from sandwich-making factories – which can chuck 13,000 slices of fresh bread a day – to brew its namesake beer.
Each bottle has the equivalent of one slice of bread in it, which replaced one-third of the barley normally used to brew the beer. Toast Ale estimates that it’s saved 1,375 pounds of bread that would have been tossed out otherwise. We’ll drink to that, considering $218 billion – or 1.3 billion tons – of food is thrown out globally each year.
Many other brewers in the global beer market expected to hit $688.4 billion by 2020 are hopping on the sustainability bandwagon to reduce waste while making their beers, such as using filtered wastewater or unwanted food products in their drinks, or even repurposing their waste to feed livestock, make dog biscuits or bake bread for human consumption.
So in honor of Thanksgiving – when Americans throw away 200 million pounds of turkey on average worth about $293 million – here’s a look at the brewers making sustainable suds from leftovers, as well as the green businesses making tasty treats from the spent grains that beer makers have left over.
The first modern day brewer to tap unwanted bread, which inspired Toast Ale, teamed up with a local social project in 2015 to collect unsold bread from nearby supermarkets to make its Babylone brew. “We now sell U.K.-wide and have begun brewing globally as far afield as Cape Town and New York,” a spokesman told Moneyish, adding, “We have open sourced a classic ‘bread beer’ recipe so home brewers can brew with bread, too.”
The U.K.’s Wasted ale is anything but – the Leeds brewers worked with The Real Junk Food Project, which runs “pay as you feel” cafes that whip up meals from food that would have been thrown away, to brew this pear farmhouse ale using unwanted pears, croissants and brioche.
Brewers make waste too. And about 85% of the dregs include spent grains whose sugars and proteins have been stripped during the brewing process, averaging about a pound or more per six-pack of beer. But there’s still nutrients left, which is why many brewers have historically taken a foam-to-farm approach and given it to farmers to feed their livestock or to enrich their soil. Here’s some other creative ways it’s being reused.
It’s harder for urban craft brewers to connect with rural farmers hand off their spent grains. They’ve either composted it or thrown it away. So ReGrained is upcycling these leftovers from city beer makers into supergrain bars, which they say pack more than three times the fiber of oatmeal. A six-pack sampler of the bars runs $14.99 online, or around $2.50 apiece in specialty stores and on Amazon. ReGrained also plans to roll out breads, cookies, cereals and chips.
Because Mondays always require more than one cup of coffee, right? pic.twitter.com/OVvBmTG21z
— ReGrained (@ReGrained) October 30, 2017
This Austin brewer mixes its spent grains with whole wheat flour, cinnamon, eggs and some other all-natural secret ingredients to bake Brew Biscuit dog treats, which they sell in their taproom and some local shops. And don’t worry: Their resident brewdog Suzy tests each batch to make sure they’re fit for your fur baby.
The Connecticut beer maker not only sources the blueberries in its Bloobs beer from a neighboring farm, but it gives its spent grains to local business Molly & Murphy to make some of their dog biscuits.
The on-site brewpub serves bread and giant pretzels made with the spent grains from its brewing process as part of its Zero Waste Initiative, which also includes running their delivery trucks on vegetable oil recycled from the kitchen, and serving organic veggies and herbs that they’ve farmed themselves.
Singapore scientists recently invented a new process to use spent brewery grains to grow more beer yeast, which in turn can brew more beer, which will produce more spent grains, which can grow more yeast. It’s the circle of pints! “About 85% of the waste in brewing beer can now be turned into a valuable resource, helping breweries to reduce waste and production cost while becoming more self-sustainable,” Professor William Chen, Director of NTU’s Food Science and Technology Programme, who is leading the research, said in his report.
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