When a brewery is done with its grains, most of the leftovers usually get tossed. Good Robot Brewing Company in Halifax is changing that.
“It’s pretty amazing how much hypothetical waste there could be,” says Josh Counsil, co-founder of Good Robot.
“Hypothetical” is the key word.
Each week, the North End brewery produces hundreds of kilograms of sopping, wet grain. Counsil explains that brewers start by putting grain through a malting process. Then, they mix it with warm water, before extracting the sugary water to make beer. What’s left is spent grain — a soggy mush that can’t be reused.
Now, the brewery is giving its leftover grain to a group called Found Forgotten Food, which turns that grain into a granola mix that they call Deja Brew.
Laurel Schut, co-founder of Found, says the volunteer-run group got the idea after hearing how much spent grain is produced during brewing.
Found repurposes otherwise unusable food. It takes fresh goods near the expiration date and sells them wholesale to restaurants, donates them to food banks or makes them into non-perishables, such as granola or jam.
So far, volunteers have made the granola, but Schut says Found will try to introduce granola-making as a community event in the future. She also hopes to buy the other granola ingredients, such as dates, locally.
“Right now we’ve just been buying (the granola ingredients) in bulk from Bulk Barn because we’ve really only made three large batches,” she says. “Once we nail it, we’re hoping to commit to local producers and suppliers.”
Schut says baking the granola is a time-consuming process. The grain needs to be dried in the oven for eight hours before adding the other ingredients.
“But, we’ve had people say it’s the best granola they’ve ever had,” she says.
And this grain isn’t just a yummy breakfast for humans.
Moo Neigh Farms, a local free-range farm, has been taking the majority of Good Robot’s spent grain to feed its animals since opening in May 2015.
“It’s neat because then those free-range animals get slaughtered and some get sent to Brothers Meats,” says Counsil. “Then, they send us the meat and we serve the beer-fed animals here at the bar.”
Counsil says he is glad that places such as Found and Moo Nay Farms help Good Robot produce less waste.
“Found Forgotten Food is an amazing organization,” says Counsil. “I mean, brewer’s grain you can’t really do too much with, but what they do with food waste is remarkable. I hope they go big; I hope they get huge here.”