In Alaska, isolation and economics are leading to innovation for one brewery.
In beer-making, a waste product known as spent grain accumulates. Many breweries make money from the byproduct by selling it to farmers for animal feed. But most breweries aren’t located in Juneau, Alaska where farms are few and far between and shipping costs are high. The Alaskan Brewing Company is. For years, the company has been shipping its spent grain to farms in the lower 48 states, barely profiting from all the trouble. But now they’re working on a system to use the beer byproduct to power the brewery.
According to the Associated Press, the brewery is installing a $1.8 million boiler system that turns the company’s spent grain to steam which will power 70 percent of the brewery’s operations.
While breweries around the world use spent grain as a co-fuel in energy recovery systems, “nobody was burning spent grain as a sole fuel source for an energy recovery system, for a steam boiler,” says Brandon Smith, the company’s brewing operations and engineering manager.
It contracted with a North Dakota company to build the special boiler system after the project was awarded nearly $500,000 in a grant from the federal Rural Energy for America Program.
The system is expected to be operational in a month and save the craft brewery — which produces 150,000 barrels of beer each year — about $450,000 annually.
Beer will help power Alaska brewery [Associated Press]