When you think of a great craft beer, I bet you never have a picture of chickens and pigs pop into your head. No? Yep, didn’t think so. This is something most craft brew aficionados don’t think of unless of course, they’re thinking about the next bacon and brew pairing! However, this connection does exist and the way it works is awesome.
Recently we’ve gained news about some new initiates being used in the craft brewing industry that benefits local communities and makes us smile. With sustainable farming practices slowly working their way through the hops growing industry, barley growers, and even the production of yeast, we knew there were more options out there. There had to be things that our industry could do to provide even more future hope. After all, if we can be innovative and create outstanding pilsners, IPAs, stouts, and other brews, why can’t we brainstorm ways to help our community out right?
That’s when we heard about some breweries like Dead Lizard Brewing Co. who found uses for spent grains. Apparently, these breweries are selling or donating those grains to local farms in order to create a cycle of resource use that benefits everyone. The cycle is larger than we notice at first because not only are we providing feed for the animals, we’re producing great craft beers for our customers. In addition to these two outstanding results, we are also keeping waste out of the landfills.
Although spent grains are biodegradable, they still take up space and that is something we do not have to lose. By taking up less landfill space, we’re ensuring that our groundwater stays healthier too! Not a bad package overall when you can feed livestock, provide great brews and help to keep drinking water clean. To us, it sounds like a winning decision!
The benefits don’t stop there! Naturally, providing feed for the livestock is a benefit. However, we’re also helping to keep natural farming practices cost-effective for these farms. Free-range farming is a healthy alternative that is slowly taking hold in the U.S., but it is hard to convince farmers to give up their current practices. Questions about cost effectiveness arise, which lead to many farms deciding they cannot afford to change over from the highly processed systems they already have in place. But what if those farms could source a cheaper bag of grains for their chickens and pigs through local breweries? The same could be done with those grains for feed for hog lots.
Providing this recycled source could help local farms in great ways, including giving them a way to change over to free range farming, thus creating more natural farms overall. While it may sound funny for the brewing industry to affect the flavor of your bacon or eggs, it’s already being done and we’re proud of the breweries that have joined in this effort. We’d love to see more new craft breweries take on this initiative. Check with your local craft brewery and ask if they have this practice in place. If they don’t, suggest it and give them a list of local farms with chickens and pigs who could benefit from it! By working together as a community, you can make the changes necessary for a better, healthier future!