Turning waste beer into renewable energy
It's not magic, it's science
We hate it when beers go to waste, so we wanted to change that. Having heard from other beer producers that it was possible to find a use for stale beer, we decided to investigate it during 2022. After reaching out to several possible options near our warehouse, and a bit of trial and error, all expired beer from our warehouse will now be used to produce biogas – a renewable source of energy.
Through partnering with Swancote Energy near Wolverhampton, we will be able to give our beer a second life powering homes and farms across the UK. It may sound like magic, but it's possible due to some truly impressive (and simple!) science. Let's find out how it all works!
Step 1: The expired beer arrives at Swancote Energy and must be taken out from its packaging, which is done by literally crushing the containers (kegs, cans and bottles) to release the beer. The glass bottles are shattered, and the metal caps are collected by passing over a large magnet. All packaging is processed and recycled accordingly, so nothing goes to waste.
Step 2: Whack out your chemistry set, it's about to get technical. The beer is poured into an anaerobic digester, which uses bacteria to break down organic matter without oxygen, creating biogas. Biogas can be used to power the production of renewable energy, such as the three wind turbines used at Swancote Energy. These three wind turbines create enough electricity (3MW) to power 9000 homes in the UK.
The sludge left at the end of the process, while not very appetising (called digestate), is a great fertiliser and so is sent to farms to use. Nothing ends up going to landfill, which is a great win for both beer drinkers and for the planet as a whole!
Currently, facilities like Swancote Energy are only available for industrial levels of beer – so sadly you cannot turn up with a few out-of-date kegs to power your own beer tap. Better not let them get stale then! However, as this technology becomes more widely used, who knows what the possibilities are?
The great thing about beer is that it is made with simple ingredients that can be easily reused elsewhere. Stale beer can be used in a variety of industries, including in baking, animal care and to make even more beer! Breweries around the world are making great strides in reusing ingredients, such as yeast, to reduce both production costs and their environmental impact. To find out what Beerwulf is doing to become more sustainable, make sure to check out our Sustainability page regularly for updates!