When Jeff Dornan opened a brewery six years ago, he knew the brewing process would produce hundreds of kilograms of spent grain, and he had a plan for it.
Rather than paying to throw it in a landfill, he teamed up with a farmer to transport it and feed it to his animals.
Not all craft brewers can access farmers in need of animal feed, which is why an industry has formed around spent grain with entrepreneurs turning it into cookies, breads and even dog treats.
“Everyone is trying to find creative ways to reduce their carbon footprint,” said Dornan, who is also president of Ontario Craft Brewers, a trade association representing more than 80 members.
During the brewing process, the grains are separated from sugars, starches and other minerals, leaving behind spent grains, which make up about 85% of all brewing by-products.
For a 2,200-liter batch at Dornan’s All or Nothing Brewery in Oshawa, Ontario, he uses about 400 kilograms of grain, producing an equal amount of spent grain.
“It would be quite expensive to send to a landfill and that’s something we never want to do,” he said.
The amount of spent grain produced has increased dramatically as the popularity of craft beers explodes. In 2018, Canada had 995 breweries – up almost 22% from the previous year – which produced about 2.17 billion liters of foam.
Some of these breweries are turning to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grains into treats for humans and their pets.
Marc Wandler seized the opportunity to turn waste into a profitable product while studying commerce. He knew that brewers needed help removing spent grains and believed consumers could be sold on the benefits of the by-product, including large amounts of fiber and protein.
He co-founded Susgrainable in Vancouver in 2018 and started selling baked goods made from used grain flour that he grinds.
He sells a basic line of banana bread and cookies, as well as seasonal produce. Bakery products start at $ 2.50 and sell for up to $ 5.
Starting at a Vancouver coffee shop, the business expanded into a local grocery store and farmer’s market circuit before partnering with Fresh Prep, a meal kit delivery service that offers Susgrainable cookies as an additional purchase. .
The three-person team recently hired a baker to create more recipes for their spent grain flour, which they started selling earlier this month for $ 9 a bag. They plan to sell more sizes in the future and hope flour will become their main product. They will continue to sell baked goods as a way to introduce consumers to the benefits and flavors of spent grain.
“There are a lot of people who want to do their own things with it,” Wandler said.
The company is seeking funding to open a manufacturing plant where it can dehydrate spent grains and grind flour, he said.
Companies in other parts of the country are also finding uses for the spent grain.
Barb Rideout co-founded Two Spent Grains with her friend in Simcoe, Ont., In 2015 after traveling to the United States with her husband and visiting craft breweries that made spent grain bread and other baked goods. Rideout started making sold out cereal bread at home before realizing the ingredient could be a business opportunity.
His friend and co-founder owns The Blue Elephant Craft Brew House, which supplies the by-product of their dog treats, Brew’ed Biscuits. A 170 gram bag of spent grain treats sells for $ 9.25.
Now when the business needs more spent grain than The Blue Elephant can supply, they find any brewery they ask is happy to give it to them for free.
The duo visited more than a dozen dog shows last year to promote the product and recently signed a distribution agreement with a wholesale bakery supplier, she said, adding that the product is sold in nearly 30 locations.
Entrepreneurs are now testing their cookie on other animals, including rabbits, hamsters, pigs and horses. It also tests a cookie for human consumption.
“We would like to be as big as possible,” said Rideout, adding that the future of the company remains fluid as the industry around spent grain grows.
“Our plan kind of changes as we move forward and see the needs and the niches. “
Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press