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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: 4, Interesting) by VLM on Monday April 21 2014, @02:37PM

    by VLM (445) on Monday April 21 2014, @02:37PM (#33985)

    Ah that's a good question. We're not talking about ratios of waste to product like a packet of Kool Aid vs 2 quarts, from memory and estimation the grains bag and all that is maybe 5% of the total mass/volume of the final product. WAY outside the range of "just toss a trash bag full into the dumpster", unless you're talking 5 gallon homebrewer size. Its an uncomfortable situation to be in, too much waste to be just a boring typical garbage collection, but not enough waste to develop an entire vertical industry around the waste stream. Logistically it'll be the little brother of the product distribution system.

    So the microbrews will get to pay to landfill, which can be kinda expensive, but the megabrewers on an economy of scale business will either have cheaper disposal rates (like multiple rail hopper carloads or unit trains?) or will be able to afford the cost of paperwork compliance when distributed across 10K tank cars full.

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  • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21 2014, @02:55PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21 2014, @02:55PM (#33995)
    • (Score: 2) by bucc5062 on Monday April 21 2014, @03:29PM

      by bucc5062 (699) on Monday April 21 2014, @03:29PM (#34014)

      Those are two interesting articles, but fin the first, this point stuck out

      Many brewers sell of their spent grain as animal feed, but that gets expensive in Alaska, which doesn’t have much in the way of a livestock industry, and apparently paying to have your heavy, waterlogged grain shipped all the way down to the lower 48 is pricey.

      So they went the more efficient route. A lower 48 may find it still better to send the grain down the road to the farmers.

      On the other article it seems they were more focused on waste water, not grain slurry. However, both are great solutions for beer companies trying to go and stay green.

      The more things change, the more they look the same