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What Happens To Wasted Beer?

Try as you might there will always be a little bit of waste beer left at the bottom of a glass won’t there? Okay maybe not always but even the busiest pub in the UK will likely have some beer leftover.

We would also be amiss if we didn’t mention the elephant in the room when it comes to wasted beer right now. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of beer has gone to waste around the UK which has led many to wonder what actually happens to wasted beer?

Clearly, you can’t drink spoilt beer but is it just poured away? Well actually wasted beer (especially in larger quantities) usually has to be disposed of very carefully following specific guidelines. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there were fears that pouring away larger quantities of spoilt beer could have caused damage to sewer systems.

So, yes pouring away the odd bit of leftover beer down the drain isn’t likely to cause any issues. But when it comes to larger quantities breweries after to be more careful. Thankfully beer is actually more versatile than many people realise and even wasted beer can be used for many different things.

Over 20 litres of water are needed to make 1 litre of beer and there are many grains and other ingredients that remain in the beer as well. This actually makes the wasted beer quite a useful substance that can be reused in a number of ways. So, let’s take a more in-depth look at how wasted beer can be reused.

As A Fertiliser/ Compost

One of the most popular ways to deal with wasted beer is to turn it into a fertiliser/ compost. This is actually something that can be done in a number of different ways. There are many grains in beer, and these can be recycled they also have the added bonus of containing nitrogen and organic matter which are ideal for plant growth.

Fertiliser made with wasted beer is also popular for mushroom growing as well. In fact, the Great Lakes Brewing Company, in Cleveland, Ohio uses wasted beer for this exact reason and then uses the mushroom in its in-brewery pub’s menu.

For Baked Goods

The many grains used in beer are again recycled in wasted beer for several different baked goods. Breads, granola bars, and even animal treats can be made using grains from wasted beer. It might not sound too appetising when you know this but it’s a common practice in the industry and you’d be surprised just how many baked goods out there use grains from wasted beers.

Interestingly the reverse of this is also true! Some breweries are taking the interesting approach of reusing the grains in baked goods to create beer. This isn’t common industry practice, but it can be done, and let’s be honest it would be interesting to give that beer a try, wouldn’t it?

For Animal Feed

We touched upon this a little earlier but let’s go a bit more in-depth. Wasted beer is actually quite common when it comes to making animal feed and it can be used in many different ways. For example, when making beer breweries will often have a lot of leftover grains which can be used to create various animal feeds.

But these grains aren’t the only way wasted beer is reused and turned into animal feed. Wasted beer itself can even be turned into fish food. This process is much more complicated and not nearly as common, but it can be done.

For More Beer

Finally, one of the most interesting ways wasted beer is being reused is in the creation of new beer! Now, this isn’t overly common and is in fact a relatively new discovery but with more study and development it could be a big boost to breweries.

Scientists from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore found that the grains leftover after creating beer could be reused to create more beer yeast. Which essentially will be the start of a self-renewing cycle! Further research is really needed into how effective this would be, but it does hold a lot of promise.  

So, that completes our look at what happened with wasted beer. As you can see many different things can be made with wasted beer and it’s much more versatile than many people first think. So, wasted beer doesn’t have to go to waste! 

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