Updated: Feb 27, 2022
An average microbrewery uses 200kg of grain to brew 1,000 litres of beer.
This grain is lightly milled and then mixed with hot water in the “mashing” stage. The liquid is then separated from the grain and moves on to becoming delicious beer while the grain which is “spent” of most of the sugars and starch that have dissolved into the water (thus spent grain) is disposed off.
While the usual nomenclature is “spent” grain, in reality the grain is considered a rich source of fiber, protein, and phenolic compounds. Research Studies and investigation into products that are being made from this grain across the world show that although the grain is “spent” of a lot of its starch and sugars it still has good protein and fibre content and is potentially a great food for humans and pets and has great value as a material that can stay in use!
Responsible breweries in a city like Bangalore give this spent grain to livestock farmers where it is used as animal feed — a rich source of protein. But in many other breweries the grain is left as waste disposal in big blue bins for the Bangalore Municipal Corporation [BBMP] to pick up and dispose.
In 2019, there were approximately 200 microbreweries in India and 67 in Bangalore alone. A typical microbrewery produces around 8,000 litres of beer every month and there are over 200 microbreweries in India today. This results in approximately 320 tonnes of spent grain every month.
One can only imagine what that figure would look like in 2030?
But this is not just about the products alone. It’s about people and the community. Relationships between brewers and bakers (and their community) have been around since the beginning of time. (which came first, beer or bread!).
What is the potential of those relationships in today’s times? What would they look like in Bangalore’s pub city?
How could these relationships help strengthen the community, not just by looking into spent grain as an affordable and nutritious food source, but by engaging people every step of the way and creating spaces and opportunities to increase their incomes, build community, improve their livelihoods and create an atmosphere for responsible food citizenship.
The idea for this potential model comes from research into how food spaces can nurture food citizenship through the circular economy. Often when we think about the circular economy in food, keeping resources in use is priority. But what if we put the world’s largest resource — human beings — in the centre of this economy.
Can we use food (spent grain) as a tool to add value to so called “waste” by working closely with natural systems and technology to empower people and communities around us for now and certainly the future.