All the news that’s fit to print, at least regarding brewery wastewater and sustainability.

If you have content you would like me to add, use the Contact Me form at the bottom of the page.  This page is updated regularly, most recent is at the top.

Brewing Sustainably

From Craft Beer and Brewing

A shorter article about water usage and wastewater impacts.  I’m curious about the system Ronin Fermentation Project in Greagle, CA developed.  I have not talked to them about their path.  It’s not one giant leap that achieves sustainability, it dozens or hundreds or smaller steps taken each day that gets you there.


Using spent yeast as a primer in fine art

From Science News

I love to hear about unique ways of using brewing byproducts, this article describes a new one to me.  Spent yeast used on a blank painters canvas like a primer.  It also mentions using beer in paints for a high gloss finish.  Pretty cool.


Infrastructure and Climate Change Impacts at Craft Breweries

From Good Beer Hunting

This is a great, lengthy article describing real world challenges brewers are facing regarding both water and wastewater.  Drought and climate change are a reality.  Water curtailments show up leading some brewers down the path of reuse.  An expensive undertaking, but if water is a limiting factor for your brewery it’s definitely worth looking at.  Written just prior to the pandemic, it gives a good historical look at growth at exponential growth and it’s local impacts.


Major fine & prison in Seattle

From Water & Wastes Digest

We have a lot of work in Seattle and in Washington state.  Here is a quick story about a Seattle barrel reconditioner deliberately discharging high pH wastewater into the public sewer.  He got busted and is facing prison!  While not beer related, it is directly related to brewers and the King County Industrial Wastewater pretreatment program.


Composting brewery wastes


We all know about spent grain as cattle feed.  But what about compost, soil amendments, pretzels, and mushrooms? This isn’t a technical article, but showcases good outside the box thinking.


Reducing load at the POTW from your brewery

From Water Tech Online

Here is a good summary of the information on this website, from an independant source.  A difference is they promote biological pretreatment at a brewery and I generally do not.  But they don’t understand that most brewers have no space for it nor can they afford it.


Successful side streaming in action

From Bloom Centre

Here is a 6-min video showing side streaming in action at a client of mine in Ontario, Canada.  Discharge limits are very tight there, the BOD of the wastewater needs to be below 1500 mg/L BOD, and they’re doing it with just side streaming (very hard to do).  They did all of this as a retrofit after their brewery was built.  You can see it’s less than ideal, but it’s working and they have expanded operations.  I wouldn’t design it the way they did it, but again, it working and that’s what matters.

Got foam?

From Alken Murray

Foaming wastewater doesn’t sound like much fun.  But it can be a reality at an on-site treatment system at a brewery or even at a municipal treatment plant.  Filamentous bacteria such as nocardia thrive in brewery wastewater, and these guys can cause foaming.  Here is a good technical article about foam producers and what to do about them.  Also see the linked articles on the left side of the page.  Here is another article about foam formers.


Bear Republic Brewing and wastewater

From Water and Wastes Digest

A good article about Bear Republic Brewing in CA and their wastewater journey.  It starts out like a lot of breweries start out, not paying attention to wastewater.  Then of course they start getting hate mail from the city, threats to shut down, and fun stuff like that.  Bear Republic is now the proud owner of their very own wastewater treatment plant!


Burning iron at a brewery for heat and power

From New Atlas

Super cool cutting edge stuff here.  The Netherlands has a mandate to begin replacing natural gas energy by 2022.  A brewery there is burning powdered iron in a boiler, which gives off only iron oxide (rust) as a byproduct.  No CO2!  The rust can be turned back into iron with (green) electricity creating a closed loop, sustainable energy source.  It’ll be very interesting to see where this goes in the coming years.


Brewery pollution prevention

From EPA

A video!  I hope to get more video content on this website but haven’t jumped that hurdle yet.  In the meantime here is a great 9 minute video put out by the EPA specific to brewery wastewater, including sound bites from brewers scattered throughout the NE.

They talk about pretreatment regulations, side streaming, pH adjustment, and flow equalization.   They also talk about aerobic and anaerobic treatment.  One issue they don’t talk about is dollars.  It’s all expensive.  Side streaming is an operating expense, treatment is a large capital expense plus operating expenses.  It’s important to pay attention to payback, however if your local municipality has a capacity constraint at the wastewater plant you may not have the choice.  In general breweries don’t install pretreatment unless they have to, and they have to if the local wastewater plant is capacity constrained.

Spent grain to combat Red Tide

From Water and Wastes Digest

Two spent grain articles in a row, and again this is something I haven’t heard of before.  Extracting flavinoids from spent grain and adding those flavinoids to seawater.  It’s not being done at scale yet, but an interesting concept.  The article also mentions it can be used to control blue-green algae in lakes.


Beer Waste Saves Montana Town $1 Million On Water Treatment

From NPR

This is something I have never heard of before.  The city is adding a small amount of spent grain into their wastewater treatment process to help with denitrification.  I’ve heard of other plants doing this with trub and waste beer, spent grain is new to me.  They’re probably adding the grain (carbon) it into the anoxic zone of their aeration basin to help the bacteria convert nitrate to nitrogen.


A Success Story From The Alchemist Brewery

From The Brewer Magazine

I really enjoyed reading this article.  I don’t know the people behind The Alchemist yet, but their passion and way of thinking is something the world can use more of right now.  They might have upped the notch for tolerance of risk management though?  Anyway, they started out by building their own high tech, low $ wastewater system for the process wastewater at their breweries which helped them out a lot. Congratulations, I know it wasn’t easy.

See this article for more, they now have an MBBR system from World Water Works.


Trouble for Rhode Island brewers

From Providence Journal

An eye opening article about the troubles with breweries and wastewater in Rhode Island.  I don’t have many clients in Rhode Island yet, but you will see a lot of commonality between content on this website and what they are actually doing.

For me, the most important piece in the article is the local variation from town to town within the small state:

  • Bristol allows users to discharge up to 4,000 mg/L BOD
  • Burrillville has a BOD ceiling of 300 mg/L.
  • East Greenwich allows for higher BOD but charges an additional fee.
  • Cranston sets a daily limit of 25 pounds per day of BOD.
  • Newport allows 200 pounds per day of BOD.
  • East Providence and Westerly have no set restrictions.

This highlights the importance of due diligence before you get too carried away.  Click below for the full story.


Biogill at Woodstock Brewery in NH

From BioGill

Biogill has a pretty cool solution for brewery wastewater treatment.  Time will tell how their system functions in the brewing sector.

When Woodstock Inn & Brewery in New Hampshire expanded to add a 30-barrel brewing system to their original 7-barrel system, the local wastewater treatment plant lacked the capacity for the increased volumes of untreated, full strength brewery wastewater. Brewery Owner Scott Rice, was facing high-strength wastewater surcharges as much as $12 per barrel, with the new sewer discharge limits requiring pre-treatment to adjust pH and reduce BOD and TSS levels to below 300 mg/L.


The Battle of Stainless Steel Vs. Polymer Concrete for Brewery Drainage
From Slot Drains

The people at Slot Drain started some cool blog posts about drainage, floor coatings, and other details.  Here is one of their posts:

Due to the nature of breweries and the sorts of fluids and waste they regularly create, drainage systems require a durable construction. Drain channels should use nonporous and noncorrosive materials that can withstand varying temperatures without the worry of them cracking or breaking. The more durable the chosen drain material is, the better it is for the brewery. A common debate for brewery drainage is stainless steel vs. polymer concrete as the chosen drain material. Here is a brief comparison of the two, to help make deciding easier.


Wastewater Basics for a Growing Craft Brewery

From Craft Brewing Business

This was one of the first articles I wrote way back when I was starting out on my own…

Depending on where you are, wastewater emanating from your brewery can be a non-issue or it can be a major deal-killer type of problem. That’s quite the variation, and it’s true. You will sleep better and have fewer headaches if you are lucky enough to fall in the non-issue end of the spectrum, but not everyone is so blessed. This article will provide a little of bit of insight in to the wonderful world of brewery wastewater and what to do with it.


Spent Grain into Activated Carbon?


This article came across my desk yesterday and I thought it was interesting.  I am a grass fed beef guy, but I do think that cattle feed is the best use for spent grain; they eat it with no processing other than hauling to the farm.  To me (call me a curmudgeon) it looks like this process of creating charcoal from spent grain falls into the realm of technically possible but not financially possible or realistically scalable:

Researchers devised a process that begins with the grain getting dried out. A two-stage chemical and heat treatment follows, which utilizes phosphoric acid and then a potassium hydroxide wash. What’s left behind is activated charcoal, which could find use in applications such as heating fuel in homes, barbecue briquettes, or water filters.


Cambrian Innovation and Lagunitas Brewing Co

From Cambrian Innovation

Cambrian exploded onto the brewery wastewater treatment scene about 10 years ago.  They are continuing to evolve and sweeten their package for brewers.

Cambrian Innovation®, a commercial provider of distributed process water treatment and resource recovery services and solutions, today announced a new agreement with long-time customer Lagunitas Brewing Company. Cambrian Innovation will act as expert consultants to the famed beer maker as Lagunitas works to maximize efficiency and reduce water use at its flagship Petaluma, California brewery.


Wastewater Screening at Worthy

From ClearBlu

ClearBlu does more than screens, they offer microbubble aeration for aerobic treatment of brewery wastewater.  Cool stuff, but they don’t publicize much.

Worthy Brewing approached ClearBlu Environmental at a Craft Brewers Conference. The brewery was still in its planning stages but knew that some extent of wastewater treatment would need to be incorporated to satisfy city requirements. ClearBlu worked closely with the facility’s architect and engineers to incorporate plans and allocate space for a complete aerobic treatment system at the facility


Wastewater Treatment by Reverse Osmosis

From Clearcove Systems

Brewery wastewater treatment without biology.  That is what Clearcove Systems is all about.  Sounds great, but I don’t know enough about them to know if it works well and if it’s affordable?

A brewery needed to effectively clean its wastewater to meet TCEQ permit requirements for water reuse and land application; while allowing for additional capacity to accommodate future growth—all within a small footprint. The customer was also looking for a rural-friendly solution, which means no lagoons and leach fields that use up valuable acreage and create odor issues.


BA Water and Wastewater Guide

From Brewers Association

A cornerstone, and a manual I helped write, the Brewers Association Sustainability Manual.  BA membership required to download.

Craft brewers are innovative leaders in the beverage sector and take pride in developing new products and processes that give both brewery employees and customers options for sustainable living. Despite significant improvement over the last 20 years, water consumption and wastewater disposal remain environmental and economic hurdles that directly affect breweries and the brewing process.


BA Solid Waste Guide

From Brewers Association

Not wastewater related, but pertinent to this discussion.  BA membership required to download.

The traditional disposal option for solid waste (i.e., hauling ‘garbage’ to landfills) has become more expensive in recent years. Old landfills have filled and closed, and the few new landfills that are permitted to open are located further away from populated areas, thereby leading to an increase in transportation costs to the final disposal area. Breweries, like many businesses, are finding that reducing the amount of waste generated can lead to significantly reduced operating costs. In addition, keeping recyclable materials out of the landfills can create a significant source of revenue.


BA Energy Sustainability Guide

From Brewers Association

Again, not wastewater related but still pertinent to this discussion.  BA membership required to download.

Owners and operators may consider energy costs as an expense they cannot control that rises and falls with the price of energy in the area. Depending on these costs, energy reduction may not be a top priority within brewery operations. Breweries that do not pay attention to the opportunities at all levels of their operations, including efficiency may miss out on potential cost-saving and revenue-generating measures.


And that is the latest.

We’ll will do what we can to keep this current, I tend to get a lot of articles like this in my news feed.  However adding the articles above is a manual process by yours truly.

Email works best for me for the first contact (use the contact form below). Sorry I don’t put my phone number on this site, I had it here and was getting too many phone calls at breakfast and dinner.  Thank you very much. John Mercer