“We have the unique honor of brewing craft beer in this stunning and remote place,” explains Alaskan Brewing Co-founder Geoff Larson. “But in order to grow as a small business here in Alaska and continue having a positive effect on our community, we have to take special efforts to look beyond the traditional to more innovative ways of brewing. Reducing our energy use makes good business sense, and good sense for this beautiful place where we live and play.”
ABC is the first craft brewery in the world to use the wet grain known as "spent grain" for sustainability purposes.
The company began the grain energy process in 1995 by installing a gain dryer to dehydrate the grain they used as cattle feed, but given the lack of farms and ranches in the area, they began using 50 percent of the grain as fuel to heat the dryer itself. The process reduced the oil required in the drying set-up and was their first step toward creating the beer-fueled boiler system.
Later, in 2008 ABC became the first craft brewery to install a mash filter press, an energy saving piece, to their brewing equipment. Besides providing greater energy, water and material efficiency, the press produced a lower-in-moisture spent grain that dried considerable faster than regular one, and went on to become the fuel for the brewery's grain dryer.
Four years and $1.8 million later, ABC built a "first-of-its-kind" spent grain steam boiler that is expected to eliminate the brewery's use of fuel oil in the drying process and reduce the oil needed in the rest of the brewery's operations.
The company expects to save about 1.5 million gallons of oil over the next ten years.