The Land-Grant Brewing Company's Sun-Grant Series is inspired by the Sun-Grant Association, a group of Land-Grant Universities that research and develop sustainable and environmentally friendly bio-based energy alternatives.
Water is essential to beer, and beer is essential to life. Without fresh, clean, easily accessible water, you wouldn’t be sipping on that citrus-packed Stiff-Arm IPA that you know and love. When thinking about sustainability and beer, it really starts with water. All those agricultural ingredients we talked about earlier? They don’t make it into that can of Greenskeeper, but that doesn’t mean they magically disappear. So in our first year of the Sun-Grant program, we took special care to develop our Water Stewardship program by working with our farming partners to turn our brewing byproduct in food for cows, chickens, and soil.
Brewing beer requires water. A lot of water. This is because the chief ingredients (hops, malts, and barley) soak up so much water in the brewing process, creating the three principles byproducts of brewing: spent grain, spent yeast, and trub (a sludgy mix of yeast and plant particulates). While these byproducts aren’t good for the city’s wastewater system, they are good for flora, fauna, and farmers.
We’ve partnered with Hoffman’s Farm & Greenhouse and St. Stephen’s Community Center to keep our spent grain and yeast from going down the drain, and we’re developing more methods to divert our trub as well.
SPENT GRAIN DIVERSION
While spent grain is no good for drains, it is good for cattle (read: happy cows). We’ve been working with Hoffman’s Farm & Greenhouse since we opened. Everyday, sometimes twice a day, they drive out to our building and pick up 1300 to 2600 lbs of spent grain, and haul it back to their farm in Hilliard, OH, where it becomes a feast for many happy black angus bovine. And though we do love happy cows, we also love happy chicks, which is why we divert a small amount of spent grain for the lovely baby hens over at St. Stephen’s Project Aquastar.
SPENT YEAST DIVERSION
We worked with our partners at St. Stephen’s and OSU’s Waterman Farm to divert more than 1600 gallons of spent yeast from our waste stream. The Farm Director at St. Stephen’s helped us pilot and test the program as early as March of 2017, testing different batches of yeast and trub in various applications around the two-acre farm in Linden. While they were able to use the nitrogen-rich yeast as a compost accelerant, they were also able to use it as a soil additive, helping them grow crops for their CSA program, food pantry, and even for us to use in special beer infusions. In August we were able to expand the program with OSU’s Waterman Research Farm, one of the very things that makes OSU a Land-Grant University. Our yeast was used as a soil additive for their Garden of Hope, a living laboratory devoted to discovering scientifically proven and evidence-based methods to empower and inform cancer survivors and their caregivers in achieving optimal health and wellness.
While we’re proud of what we’re doing to divert spent yeast and grain from our wastewater stream, we were unable to find a viable way to divert our trub (spent hop and vegetable matter) from our waste stream this year. This was due in part to the temperature that the trub comes out of the kettle (almost 200ºF!) and the relatively small quantity we generate when compared to our spent yeast and grain. That being said, we’ve got some tricks left up our sleeve, and are aiming to have yeast fully diverted from our waste stream by the end of 2018.
DAILY CLEANING WATER CALENDAR
As any brewer worth their malt will tell you, 90% of brewing beer is cleaning and sanitation. Good beer is clean beer, and our brewers make sure that the only thing in your class is water, hops, and malt. To cut down on how much water we use, we began a Daily Cleaning Water Calendar, to measure and manage our non-process water usage. Our aim was to develop water efficiency baselines for our cleaning procedures by tracking how much water we use everyday. However, shortly into the project we had to abandon the effort, as it was much more data to manage than we realized at the offset. For the rest of the year, we turned our attention towards reducing our carbon footprint and diverting our byproduct, as well as evaluating and implementing several of our larger sustainability projects. At year’s end, we unfortunately saw a slight loss in water use efficiency. So we’re going to tackle our water use from a new angle in 2018, and we’re confident we’ll be able to reduce our water consumption, making sure we use only what we need to use for you to enjoy a clean, crisp, 1862 Kolsch on a hot summer day.
Water is essential to beer, and beer is essential to life. While we’re currently able to divert some of our brewing byproduct, we still have work to do keeping more of our yeast and trub out of the water system. Check back here for updates as we continue to develop our water stewardship initiatives.