Here at West Palm Beach Brewery and Wine Vault, we love to see our fellow breweries taking up the standard for sustainable brewing practices, green energy, and the reduction of our carbon footprint on the world around us. The many craft breweries making these efforts are worth being proud of, as they are truly showing how dedicated they are to their communities and the world we live in.
There are a variety of ways this is happening, with the most noticeable being a large turn towards donation or sale of spent grains to local farms for feed. This practice makes great use of a huge resource. With craft breweries producing millions of pounds of spent grains every year, it’s important for us to think of ways to discard those byproducts without making use of landfills. “Waste not, want not” was a phrase used by many people years ago and we’re really starting to see how avoiding wasteful practices can truly benefit the world around us.
With many smaller farms experiencing hardship where overhead costs are concerned, it is important that we try to help them in any way we can. Many of these farms provide produce, meat, and eggs to local Farmer’s Markets, restaurants, and food trucks, which means we’re afforded the chance to enjoy locally raised food instead of purchasing shipped in goods at the store. With so many folks turning to healthier living, this resource is very important and by supporting the local farms, we’re supporting our communities health and well-being.
Local farms use spent grains to feed their livestock, however, they can also be used to create garden beds that have better drainage and aeration. By tilling spent grains into the soil, the ground is broken up much better than leaving it to pack together again. Better drainage means less chance of waterlogging and root rot, things that can destroy a crop very quickly. It’s just one small way that local farms can benefit from the donation of spent grains to their farming operation, be it large or small.
The nutrients remaining in spent grains also help to return viability to the soil, which is highly important to crop production. Loss of nutrients in the soil is the main reason that farms rotate their crops regularly, switching from corn to soy or wheat. Tilling under the remaining stems helps to boost the viability of their soil, thus boosting the production of the next year’s crop. Tilling in spent grains helps in exactly the same manner, without the need to grow an entirely different crop for a year, allowing the farm to continue producing the crops that the community needs.
While this simple change in how our craft breweries manage their spent grains may seem insignificant, it has a lasting effect that can spark even greater changes over time. The next time you go to your local farmer’s market, or grab a craft beer at your local brewery, ask about these practices and see if maybe they’re already being implemented in your own community. If not, take the time to suggest it, because every little bit of effort is important to the future of our communities.
Also, if you happen to know of any older or new craft breweries that have already turned to these great practices, let us know in the comments! We love to feature breweries that are taking steps to really make a difference in their local communities and we’d really enjoy hearing from our readers. In the meantime, we’re headed back to work here in West Palm Beach, Florida. Our own brewery opening in coming up later this year and we can’t wait to see all of you there! Happy brewing.
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