When creativity and sustainability meet the art of brewing, a circular beer doesn’t look that far anymore…
Commodity producers should aim to “do more and better with less”. This is the motto of the 2015 United Nations summit, in which all countries took responsibility to protect the planet by sustainably producing products and strategically managing natural resources. With 1/3 of produced food wasted every year and the resulting loss of prime resources, the regeneration of the food system is one of the most relevant topics highlighted in the agreement.
Today, we want to take a look at the latest sustainable developments in the world of brewing. May beer be the most widespread and loved beverage in the world, but the current beer production system is not environmentally friendly. To produce one liter of this refreshing drink, it takes between 30 to 90 liters of water, which is ultimately discarded together with draff and dregs. Nevertheless, these scraps, which make up about 90% of total used raw materials, preserve properties that can be of use for other industries. Biogas factories and biorefineries already use them for the production of renewable energy, compost, and organic substrate. Nonetheless, all over the world, we could observe the rising of creative initiatives trying to make brewing a more sustainable economic activity.
For example, in Italy, the Agricultural R&D Institute (CREA) is focusing on re-designing the economic and productive structure of the Italian artisanal brewing activity, especially in the Lazio region. The research proposes to reuse spent grain for the production of biomass pellets and biochar, which can be used to produce energy and heat. Furthermore, Carlsberg Italia is managing to return safely to nature 100% of the waste produced during the brewing process, allowing nearby farmers to reuse the water for irrigation.
After the fermentation, grains still hold a great part of their nutritious value, making them a great source of proteins and fibers. With this in mind, Regrained and The Brooklyn Brew Shop came up with the idea to use breweries’ spent and bake it into delicious and nutritious snack bars and baked goods. From the same concept, the company Brewscuits developed a line of treats for man’s best friends. Ingenious is the project of Saltwater Brewery, which transforms its beer’s byproducts into biodegradable six-pack rings that can be eaten by marine creatures. Still in kick-starter phase is Canvas, a plant-based beverage made with “saved grains”. According to their campaign, each 350cl bottle will contain 13g of dietary fibers, 10g of healthy plant proteins, and essential medium-chain fatty acids.
The Danish brewer Norrebro Bryghus has created a very curious beer with the help of the 2015 staging of Roskilde Music Festival. The new beer, called ‘Pisner’, has been made with the help of 50,000 litres of urine that was collected from the festival. ‘Pisner’ contains no actual human waste, and the idea was backed by Denmark’s Agriculture and Food Council, who coined the concept of the new drink “beercycling.”
Whether they are pellets or cookies, we find it positive that attention is given to the present most pressing global issues, i.e. resources depletion and food insecurity. We can’t wait to see what more beer and Earth lovers have in store for us in the future!