How to Get Rid of Spent Grain in the City

Sometimes, logistically, finding a way to get rid of spent grain can be a hassle. Especially if your brewery is located in a city and the load of spent grain is hard to get from the bottom of a mash tun into a trailer out back.

Breweries have found ways to deal with spent grain in many ways, including composting, drying and using the spent grain as a heat source or using it as cattle or hog feed.

Crazy Mountain Brewing is a growing brewery in Edwards, Colorado that just five years ago was making less than 5,000 barrels. Now five times more production means more spent grain and the brewery is finding it tough to find enough farmers to take the grain away.

With the original Edwards facility and now a brewery in Denver, it’s become twice as tough.

“It is hard to find a home for the spent grain at our Edwards facility,” said John Allshouse, Crazy Mountain’s Senior Technical Advisor. “Typically the grain is picked up by cattle or pig farmers for their livestock. In the Vail valley, there is only one farmer. And in fact, he is more like a part-time farmer. He typically has time to pick up about 2-3 brew’s spent grain per week … we often made about 10 brews per week. So the rest of the spent grain was sent to a composting facility.”

In Denver, there are a lot more farmers along the front range with needs for spent grain, Allshouse noted.

“In fact, we get daily pick ups at our Denver facility,” he said. “The same farmer will also pick up at facilities like Avery, Great Divide, Odell, etcetera. So in short, there is no end of options for this waste product along the front range.”

Often larger breweries with more history with the livestock farmers can demand a price for their spent grain.

“In short, they have found a way to make money on the waste, considered a commodity by others,” Allshouse said. “We at CMB have not been in the Denver area long enough to develop that kind of history with the farmers … possibly we will start with trade in the short term.

“Think big, thick porterhouses,” he said jokingly.

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