By Zak Stone
The Alaskan Brewing Company just upped the ante for craft breweries who pride themselves on sustainability. It will now power its Juneau facilities with a resource that's both free and abundant if you're a brewery: old grain. Malt and barley leftover from the brewing process will now get a second life as fuel for the brewery's new steam boiler, making the company the world's first "beer-powered" craft brewery.
"We have the unique honor of brewing craft beer in this stunning and remote place," co-founder Geoff Larson, explains in a statement. "But in order to grow as a small business here in Alaska and continue having a positive effect on our community, we have to take special efforts to look beyond the traditional to more innovative ways of brewing. Reducing our energy use makes good business sense, and good sense for this beautiful place where we live and play."
Most breweries send their spent grain to farms as cattle feed, but there aren't that many of those in frosty Alaska (only 680 in the entire enormous state, according to the AP). For years, the ABC would ship its spent grain to the continental U.S., but that wasn't very economically viable and used a lot of energy to dry the grain, moist from the brewing process.
The $1.8 million custom-built boiler will be up and running in a couple weeks and will save the company an estimated $450,000 a year in energy cost, while providing 70% of its power. Cheers to that.
Copyright 2013 by Fast Company. Reprinted with permission.