Enzymes, Process Updates Drive Sustainable Brewing

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Brewmasters are creating more environmentally-friendly beer production with the use of adjuncts, enzymes and other processing aids

Beer production processes have been tested and refined over centuries to create a product that is known and enjoyed around the world. But producing beer is an extremely resource-intensive process, during which a tremendous amount of water and energy is used and a considerable amount of waste is generated. This doesn’t align with the current consumer preference for companies and brands that address environmental issues and manufacture products in a sustainable way.

These market trends present an opening for brewers that are able to implement more sustainable brewing practices. These companies are almost guaranteed to win over consumers: an international study by Unilever revealed that 33% of consumers decide to purchase from brands that they perceive to be taking responsibility for environmental or social good. As the global focus on sustainability gains momentum, more consumers want to purchase beer products from breweries and brands that address the impact they have on the environment. In fact, a recent study from Indiana University suggests that 59% of people would pay extra for sustainably produced beer, yielding an extra $1.30 per six pack.

To make brewing processes more sustainable, our brewmasters, food scientists and technologists are experimenting with new ingredients and processes modifications. We’ve found that with a few small changes, including the addition of processing aids such as enzymes—natural ingredients which historically have been used to improve the efficiency of manufacturing—brewers can ensure that pursuing sustainable brewing practices won’t compromise beer quality or product consistency. Here’s a look at new ways to make beer with a lower carbon footprint through sustainable brewing practices.

Waste Reduction in Beer Brewing
To control raw material costs, brewers are looking to reduce malt, which can be expensive, and increase their usage of lower-priced adjuncts, which include unmalted grains such as barley, wheat, maize and rice. The use of adjuncts in brewing is only expected to increase as a result of climate change: the recent trend of hotter summers and challenging growing conditions has caused reduced crop yields, higher barley and malt prices and inferior quality grains for brewing and distilling.

Breweries using high levels of adjuncts can find it difficult to achieve high yields and optimal brewing outputs. To overcome the processing challenges of adjunct brewing, enzymes can be used to enhance the natural breakdown process and optimise brewhouse performance and yield, which means less waste and lower impact on the environment. These products also maintain high-quality extract (maximum yield from mashing step) in the most cost-efficient and sustainable way.

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Water Reduction in Beer Brewing
The traditional malting process requires large amounts water and heat to malt barley. Using unmalted barley, instead, will reduce water and energy requirements during the brewing process—in general, a life cycle analysis will demonstrate that product produced with raw barley has a lower water requirement than an equivalent produced with malt. Processing aids such as FermCap can also help reduce the amount of water used in the washing steps of beer processing through the prevention of over-boiling and spill-over.

Energy Reduction in Beer Brewing
At the end of the maturation phase in beer processing, it is important to remove as much yeast as possible prior to filtration. Using a process aid to achieve this gives improved wort clarity, which significantly improves beer filtration and minimises expensive wort losses. Enzymes can also be used to improve beer filtration, bringing about significant cost savings and quality benefits and reducing overall energy demand.

Adjunct brewing also reduces the energy consumption associated with your beer compared to brewing with malt as malting is a very energy-intensive process involving high levels of heat and water. (See above for ways to reduce waste during high adjunct beer brewing.)

Increasing Local Crop Use in Beer Brewing
The use of local grains for beer brewing brings widespread benefits such as cost savings and supply chain efficiency for the brewer, reduced environmental impact of importing grains and positive outcomes for localised communities. Enzymes and processing aids can help brewers around the world work more efficiently to produce sustainable beer from crops grown nearby.

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For instance, in Africa, brewers are able to produce beer from local raw materials, such as cassava, a crop that experiences high wastage rates as it rots rapidly after harvest unless it is processed. By using cassava as a main ingredient in beer, brewers are able to reduce crop waste for farmers, cut down on fuel and energy used to import ingredients grown far away and support their local economies by working with neighbouring community farmers.

Kerry has partnered with sustainability consultants, Jacobs Consultancy, to quantify the sustainability benefits of brewing with enzymes. To discuss how you can make brewing more sustainable, or learn more about calculating the benefits of enzymes and brewing ingredients in your brewing processes, contact us. To learn more about our commitment to sustainability, explore our Towards 2020 strategy.

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