While the process of brewing and drinking beer is one of the most essential components of any Michigan brewery, what many brew enthusiasts don’t realize is just how much waste is created in the process. According to a study done by Gunter Pauli, the author of The Blue Economy, 92 percent of all brewing ingredients are wasted. Much of this waste is spent grain, and Frankenmuth Brewery and other craft brewers are doing our part to put it towards good use.
In Pauli’s 2003 study, almost 85 percent of breweries involved said that they sold or gave away their spent grain to local farmers for use as animal feed. This sense of recycling has put the brewing world ahead of many other industries. Yet, with the advancement of the brewery food in the past decade, breweries like Frankenmuth no longer have to give away waste. Instead, we are working to incorporate the leftovers into our recipes. In our own Michigan brewery kitchen, we use much of our spent grain to create the bread bowls for the plentiful amount of our famous chili that we serve everyday.
Breweries are famous for innovation in reinventing the brewing wheel. Great Lakes Brewing Company, located in Cleveland, Ohio, has also started to work with its waste in the same way our Michigan brewery has: by recycling it into menu items. In addition to using its spent grain for bread, the brewery has also begun experimenting with using waste grain to actually grow food.
Elsewhere, inventor Eric Fitch has outfitted Magic Hat’s Vermont brewery with a new machine, the anaerobic methane digester. While the invention is a bit of a mouthful, and cost nearly four million dollars to build, the machine can be used to turn brewing waste into natural gas. According to Fitch’s company Purpose Energy, the 42-foot tall building is capable of holding 490,000 gallons of water waste and can turn that into 200 cubic feet of bio-gas per minute.
Frankenmuth Brewery is dedicated to continuing our progression toward total eco-consciousness. While it starts with little things like donating waste to local farmers for animal feed and making food from our spent grain, we will continue to find ways to reduce the waste of our Michigan brewery. We are proud to see our brewing brethren following suit.Google+