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posted by janrinok on Monday April 21 2014, @12:03PM   Printer-friendly
from the but-who-will-make-a-profit? dept.

One gallon of beer yields on average about a pound of spent grain, the malted barley husks leftover after mashing and the sweet liquid is drained. It's a food grade product and for years, smaller craft brewers have donated or sold on the cheap their spent grain to farmers to feed cows and other livestock. Now The Oregonian reports that the FDA, charged with tightening the country's food safety network, has proposed a rule that strikes financial fear into the hearts of brewers and distillers nationwide which could cost the industry millions and increase the price of beer and spirits. The proposal would classify companies that distribute spent grain to farms as animal feed manufacturers, possibly forcing them to dry and package the material before distribution. The equipment and set up to do that would cost about $13 million per facility, says Scott Mennen, vice president of brewery operations at Widmer. "That would be cost prohibitive," Mennen said. "Most brewers would have to put this material in a landfill."

The FDA rule would also require brewers and distillers to keep extensive records to allow for traceability in the event of a problem, and to adopt new safety procedures, for example by storing and shipping spent grain in closed sanitized containers. "Beer prices would go up for everybody to cover the cost of the equipment and installation," says James Emmerson, executive brewmaster of Full Sail Brewing Co. The proposal has sparked an outpouring from opponents, with hundreds of comments pouring into the FDA. "This is the kind of stuff that makes government look bad," says Rep. Peter DeFazio. "It would mark a huge setback adding tons of waste to our landfills."

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by FatPhil on Monday April 21 2014, @12:54PM

    by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Monday April 21 2014, @12:54PM (#33932) Homepage
    "shove it into a fermentor" eh?

    The problem with spent grain, as the name indicates, is that the majority of saccharides, in the form of fermentable sugars, have been removed - and shoved in a fermentor - and therefore, considering its bulk, this byeproduct a relatively poor input for biogas production.

    There are exceptions - there's a biogas production mechanism called "feeding it to a cow", and that works quite well, and has meat or milk as rather tasty byeproducts. The problem is that the FDA wants to regulate against doing that unless you jump through expensive hoops.

    However, as a selfish European, I can't hide the fact that things which are to the detriment of the US are usually good news for our European counterparts. So if this bill passes, hopefully it means there will be hop gluts, and nice cheap prices over here!
    I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
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  • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Monday April 21 2014, @03:00PM

    by Nerdfest (80) on Monday April 21 2014, @03:00PM (#33998)

    The really fun part is that it's my understanding that spent grains are given or sold very cheaply to farms in Europe, and have been for at least many hundreds of years. It's one of the best feeds available.

    • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Monday April 21 2014, @10:23PM

      by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Monday April 21 2014, @10:23PM (#34180) Homepage
      It's kind of illegal too, alas, in most places. I'm friends with a new local brewer(y), and they say they literally can't give their spent grains away (and aren't willing to risk doing illegal stuff). They could leave it so that it's not protected against theft, that's about all, but daren't even make that well known. (However, our laws are some of the strictest in Europe, it seems.)

      Down south, one of the breweries has a nice little side business - they make biscuits out of the spent grain - very tasty! However, I've only seen them on sale in one cafe, associated with the brewery, so clearly that's only a tiny fraction of their waste.
      I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
      • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Tuesday April 22 2014, @03:31AM

        by Nerdfest (80) on Tuesday April 22 2014, @03:31AM (#34238)

        They should sell it as-is as breakfast cereal. It's quite tasty.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21 2014, @03:10PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21 2014, @03:10PM (#34004) [] brewer-generates-its-own-power-beer-mash [] [] purposes-high-strength-waste-water-electricity-gen eration/ []