The brewing industry has a brutal environmental footprint. Billions of liters of water are transported to consumers around the world basically because beer is made up of up to 90% water. And, as this gigantic industry strives to become greener, an alternative to reducing its carbon footprint is gaining ground: taking water out of the equation. Or at least temporarily.
A company in Germany has announced that it is developing the world’s first beer in powdered form. This manufacturing process to compress it as much as possible would save costs and resources in the manufacturing process. In addition to reducing the weight of shipments by almost 90%. The question is: does it taste good?
An envelope of beer. As the colacao. After two years of research funded by BMW and the German Federal Ministry of Economics, Klosterbrauerei Neuzelle has developed a powdered beer that will hit the market later this year. This drink, which the company has dubbed “drier beer,” differs from other powdered beers launched in recent years in that it contains alcohol and is carbonated. “It is the world’s first complete beer in powder form and it could change the world,” explained Stefan Fritsche, managing director of the brewery.
🍺 A brewery in Eastern Germany has developed a beer in powder form to reduce the heavy carbon footprint of beer exports pic.twitter.com/YpddYqs7vt
— Reuters (@Reuters) March 21, 2023
How does it work? The idea is very simple: add powder, add water, stir a few times and the beer is ready. In the future, would be produced in large factories and delivered to local water bottlers. They can then mix it with water, bottle it, and sell it locally as a beer.
According to the company, this dextrin-rich beverage is processed into a water-soluble powdered beer. Dextrins are starch breakdown products consisting of several simple sugar molecules and are found in beer. Before consumption, the powder must be mixed with carbonated water or, in exceptional cases, with tap water.
What does it taste like? Like beer, including alcohol and carbon dioxide and a layer of foam. Klosterbrauerei Neuzelle says that the first beer tastings with the powdered brew have been promising. A reporter for the regional newspaper Märkische Oderzeitung said: “It tastes a bit malty.” And it could be made with any type of beer: stout, light, pale ale, etc. That means that in the future, breweries could get these powder packets and add them to the drinks they serve to customers.
Because? Because one packet of powder translates to about 10% of the contents of a bottle. This significantly reduces delivery and shipping costs. “The time has come to put classic beer production and logistics to the test in view of how we treat our environment,” the company notes. In addition, the energy crisis, inflation and the shortage of glass caused by the war in Ukraine have put many obstacles in this market.
“We have calculated that, as far as Germany is concerned, we can save between 3 and 5% of CO2 emissions for Germany alone. And if you look at it globally, that would be around half of the CO2 emissions in the entire world.” world that we could reduce. Of course, that’s not much at first, but all over the world it’s a gigantic sum,” the authors of the idea explained.
But it doesn’t work for everyone. It doesn’t make sense to import glass bottles, fill them with German water, and then ship the beer to Africa or China or wherever. According to the creators, it would only make sense for brewers that supply far-flung markets and that the predominantly small and medium-sized local brewers would continue to brew and bottle beer conventionally.
A sustainable trend. In addition to agriculture and refrigeration, many of the emissions related to this industry result from transporting barrels and other bulky containers to market through existing infrastructure, which is not very green. That’s why brewers are exploring new packaging technologies to reduce shipping, such as concentrating the drink.
For example, a Colorado-based company called Sustainable Beverage Technologies (SBT) has developed a machine that produces a version of beer that contains much less water than normal. The system uses a “nested fermentation” process that removes the alcohol and adds a sugary liquid extracted from the mashed beans. This produces a viscous concentrate which, along with the extracted alcohol, can be stored in separate bags and easily shipped. After transportation, the alcohol is remixed with the concentrate (or left out in the case of non-alcoholic beer), and the beer is rehydrated and carbonated before bottling or serving.
Image: Klosterbrauerei Neuzelle
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