Like all other breweries we use Malted Barley in our brewing process. We'll use roughly 1000lbs per brew in order to extract enough sugars for fermentation, and what that means: We have a lot of spent grain at the end that we need to dispose of.
A lot of brewers look to farmers to come and pick up the grain to feed to their livestock, but we fall into a strange middle-ground where we don't have enough for most farmers, but too much for most other uses. We had a mushroom farmer that was eager for a bit, but he became concerned about a quality of bacteria that might jeopardize his shrooms.
So, we've been throwing our grains in the dumpster every week. It's not a horrible thing to do; they are very biodegradable and fall into a more positive bracket of things one can find in a landfill. However, these grains have the potential for a very positive secondary use.
We're strapped for time here at Half Acre so we've enlisted engineering students from Northwestern University to mull over this dilemma. Above, you can see three members of each team of four that will take the next two months to develop a secondary use for these grains. They've been provided a budget, a list of considerations and let loose to battle it out.
They're doing it as part of a class and have to prepare a formal evaluation and proposal, but we're looking at it more like a reality TV program. Kind of like that insane MTV show with Sean Combs / Puff Daddy / Diddy where he demoralizes hip-hop hopefuls on their road to never attaining an actual rap career. Well, maybe not like that, but maybe some long, ridiculous motivational talks in our non-existent board room urging them to be the engineering change they want to create.
Thanks to Northwestern University for working with us, and to each of the eight students that aim to eek the other team out of the engineering spotlight. Best of luck to both teams.
You'll see that I numbered them. Please feel free to comment on who you think has the gumption to take the glory and get that grain re-used. All I can say is that I met with all of them personally, and they seemed hungry.
Half Acre Beer Co