Beer Brewing Waste Products

The world of beer brewing waste products is exploding, so if you’re curious, you’re not alone. So much can be done with the waste from brewing that it is a truly revolutionary industry. From feed for animals to food additives and even fertilizers, brewers looking to minimize or eliminate waste from their brewing have so many options it is remarkable.

What Is the Waste in Beer Production?

When you make a cup, or even a pot, of tea, you rarely think of the leftover tea leaves. Why would you? It’s a few tablespoons of wet leaves or roots that you can simply dump in the trash.

But if you were brewing dozens of gallons, or hundreds of gallons, of beer, you might think of those used up byproducts differently.

After all, to make beer, brewers must use 15 gallons or more of grains to make just 5 gallons of their delicious beverage. When you think of all the breweries around the world performing this master craft, that’s a lot of grain waste that would go right into a landfill if we didn’t find more creative ways to put it to use.

Of course, in early days, brewers would never have thought of tossing what we now refer to as brewer’s spent grain, or BSG, in the trash. But those brewers were rarely strictly brewers. They were often also pub owners with cattle or other livestock to tend to and feed. They might have been landowners with crops to care for, and also animals to feed. Or we could be talking about a single family with their own farm. Either way, people brewing beer often had other uses for their BSG, and it rarely went to waste.

Now that industries, farmland, and businesses have, for the most part, been separated out to single products, single crops, and a higher focus on specialization, a disconnect has occurred across the board.

So for decades, BSG has gone to the landfills.

To be clear, BSG can include both the grain leftover after brewing and the hops typically discarded as well.

And while many brewers and others may have considered BSG to be useless for hundreds of years during and after the Industrial Revolution, the reality is that this spent grain is rich in both protein and fiber. BSG is anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, and has antioxidants. Basically, it’s really good stuff.

What Can You Make with Beer Waste?

The three major industries benefiting from BSG right now are fertilizer producers, livestock feed producers, and food additives producers.

Also read: The Nutritional Value of Brewery Waste

Fertilizing land and crops with BSG allows you to ingrain your crops with nutrients that may have been extracted from the soil. On a global scale, farm soil has been depleted as yet another result of the lack of awareness around the circles and cycles around production and waste. Far too many crops have been grown as single crops back to back, to the point that the soil simply does not have the vitamins and minerals it once had that are so valuable to human health. Vitamin B12 is just one example.

In multiple samples taken of BSG, B12 has been found in abundance. Thus, putting it back into the soil and the plants offers a chance to replenish depleted soil and invigorate plants that would otherwise be lacking.

For these same reasons, BSG is an excellent option as livestock feed.

When those animals eat grass and other plants from the soil, we in turn have access to the bioavailability of those nutrients when we eat the animals as part of a balanced diet. Including BSG in livestock feed gives us those same opportunities.

Finally, adding BSG to commercially produced foods like cereals, chips, crackers, and bread, allows us to fortify those foods naturally, with other food products, rather than with supplements created in a lab. Bioavailability is always going to be more accessible when we eat our nutrients in food rather than when we have to take them as supplements.

And this is just the beginning of the conversation surrounding beer brewing waste products.

How to Store Beer Waste?

In terms of storage for future use or recycling, the best way to store your BSG is to freeze it. You’ll want to give it a few hours to dry out as much as possible after the grains have been filtered out of the wort, but not so dry that the individual grains are not still a bit wet, and then place the spent grain loosely in bags.

The quicker you freeze the BSG, the less likely you are to allow mold or mildew to set in.

The shelf life of frozen BSG is three to four months, so ideally you will find a use for it before then.

Then, when you do remove the BSG from the freezer, be sure to use it quickly or put it right back into the freezer.

Summing It All Up

In the end, brewer’s spent grain is highly nutritious and of obvious use in many industries. It is a failure of the Industrial Revolution that the disconnect between brewers and the industries they can provide BSG to has taken place.

Fortunately, these industries are finding their way back to each other.

Are you still pitching fresh yeast every time? By reusing your yeast, you can save up to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year on just yeast alone!

Join the hundreds of brewers from all around the world using the Smartest Automated Yeast Cell Counter! Request a Free Demo Account today and experience firsthand how Oculyze can take your brewery to the next level! 

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