Feb 4, 2013

Beer powered Beer! (green beer!)

Normally, when you hear the term "green beer" the discussion is revolving around St Patrick's Day. However, recently, with the growing awareness of environmental issues, the term "green beer" has more to do with more responsible, environmentally friendly brewing practices. Be it solar panels on the roof, recycling cans and bottles, alternatively fueled delivery trucks, or what have you. The beer community is stepping into the environmentally friendly fray more and more.
One of the the more innovative, and impressive examples of this I have recently come across, is Alaskan Brewing Company. They are turning their waste product into power! .

One of the waste products that beer creates, is spent grain. Most brewery's sell their spent grain to farms as feed for livestock, as it is quite high in protein. At least that is what brewers down in the lower 48 (as Alaskans refer to us) do with it. Now, up there in the land of the midnight sun, they don't really have that option, as there is only a handful of farms in the brewers area (37 in all of south west Alaska, only 680 in the entire state, by means of comparison, according to USDA, there are 10,200 farms in my state of Arizona, 76,500 in Wisconsin!!!). Shipping spent grain down to the lower 48 eat up almost any additional profits that could be made from it. So, what to do with it? Well, the folks at Alaskan Brewing Company went out and got themselves a $1.8 million dollar furnace, and burn that spent grain, and use it to create steam, to power your brewery! They look to the furnace to off set the brewery's yearly energy cost by some 70%, which is currently about $450,000! So, the $1.8 million dollar investment (before you deduct the nearly $500,000 grant the project was rewarded) seems to be able to pay itself off in just a matter of years!

The furnace! (photo by Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)

Just one more example of brewery's looking outside their little box, to come up with smart, cost effective, environmentally friendly solutions to problems that a lot of brewery's deal with. The more and more we make advancements like, the more and more affordable this technology becomes, and more available it becomes for even the littlest brewers!

So, hat tip and a raised glass to Alaskan Brewing Company, well done, and keep up the great (and green) work!

If you care to read more about this project, check out stories from CBS, and Fox News
Or the brewery's own press release here...

Check out Alaskan Brewing Company's website

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends
The Beer Czar

No comments:

Post a Comment