“For me a middle ale!” “Me too!” “And I take a double malt beer!” These are the classic expressions of nights and nights spent at the pub with our friends. So many nights, that beer (whatever it is) goes along with us since we were boys until we grow up. And who cares if our belly gets bigger. Yet, to produce the nectar of the gods, it takes up to 20 liters of water per one liter of brewed beer. Plus, there’s a lot of other stuff that’s leftover from the process, like spent grains—about 85 percent of the byproduct.
It doesn’t really seem to be a sustainable food. But beer brewers have always been innovators, mixing creativity, ingenuity, and science to create delicious new beers, so it makes sense they would be at the vanguard of innovative ways to reuse the waste from making their products. Brewers have provided spent grains to farmers to use as animal feed for some time since the Neolithic Period, and in the new millennium there are such nice ideas, useful and innovative on how to use the remnants, already put in place by several American companies.
For example, Hewn, a Chicago-based bakery, uses brewers’ spent grains for bread, granola bars, dog treats and delicious base to build a pastrami sandwich on. In Colorado, it has been testing out using weak wort, a sugary liquid left over from the brewing process, to help reduce nitrogen runoff from one of its water-treatment facilities. There is also the traditional use as compost, meanwhile in Denver, Nutrinsic realizes the conversion into fish food.
However, the most interesting is the idea of an Oregon-based startup, Waste2Watergy, who has created a microbial fuel cell that can generate energy as it treats wastewater. Microbes that munch on the organic material in the wastewater produce electrochemical energy in the process that’s converted into power.