Ever wonder what happens to all that grain that’s used in the brewing process? We handle waste a little differently at Boise Brewing. Todd Freer is one of our many community owners and Freer Organics has been using our waste for Bokashi composting since the beginning. Read further as Todd writes a guest blog, explaining this unique arrangement!
As you enjoy the beers of Boise Brewing it is probably rare that you give pause to think about the amount of waste a small brewery like ours creates. At the current rate of production Boise Brewing will generate approximately 124 tons of spent grains per year. A massive amount of waste for a small brewery to handle. In addition brewery waste is wet and must be processed quickly before rotting sets in.
Traditionally brewer’s waste has been used to supplement livestock feed or dumped in landfills. More recently artisans have started using the grains to make human and pet treats. While human and pet treats are a great use of the grains, dealing with the massive volume was the topic on BB Brewer Lance Chaves’s mind when I approached him with the idea of Bokashi composting in the spring of 2014. After explaining how Bokashi composting would turn the spent grains into an effective natural soil amendment while also vastly reducing the amount of greenhouse gases the waste would produce Boise Brewing was on board.
Bokashi composting is a fermentation method of composting which employs the use of Effective Microorganisms (EM) to break down organic matter. Depending on temperature, this fermentation process takes about two weeks to complete. After fermentation is complete the Bokashi compost is then added directly to the soil where it completes composting in two to four weeks and becomes available nutrient for plants.
I had a high interest in adding Bokashi composting to the activities of Freer Organics for some time and the brewer’s spent grains are perfectly suited for the process. The most energy intensive and costly expense of a large scale Bokashi composting operation lies in shredding the waste material. By utilizing spent grains that have already been ground during the brewing process we are able to skip the shredding step all together. This allowed us to start off processing six tons of Bokashi compost per month and we are doubling our capacity in the next few months. I’m thrilled to have a partner with my community brewery getting this project kicked off. Together we are hoping to show Boise what is possible when it comes to processing waste.