In Alaska, it’s all about great beer and the Alaska Brewing Company, LLC (ABC) in Juneau is the 12th largest craft brewery by sales volume in the U.S. According to their website, the Alaskan Brewing Company became the 67th operating brewery in the United States and the only brewery in Alaska in 1986.
Part of ABC’s success comes from its investment in renewable energy in the form of a new steam boiler. The new boiler, the first of its kind, is now in full operation thanks in part to a USDA-Rural Development Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant award of almost $450,000. The total project cost for the boiler upgrade was $1.8 million.
“Renewable energy is one of the integral components to Alaska’s future. The new steam boiler at ABC is a great example of a forward-thinking approach to harnessing a new fuel source. Their boiler uses wet grain also known as “spent grain” that is left over from the brewing process, as the sole fuel source,” said Alaska Rural Development State Director Jim Nordlund. “We’re happy to have played a part in this company’s innovation.”
In a recent ABC press release, they state theirs is the first craft brewery in the world to use this brewing by-product in this way, reducing the company’s fuel oil consumption in brewhouse operations by over 65 percent. The company also saves by not having to pay to ship the “spent grain” back to Washington State by barge.
Alaskan Brewing Company’s co-founder Geoff Larson said, “We have the unique honor of brewing craft beer in this stunning and remote place. But in order to grow as a small business in Alaska and continue having a positive effect on our community, we had to take initiative 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 says they expect their new spent grain steam boiler system will do away with the brewery’s use of fuel oil in the grain drying process and displace more than half of the fuel needed to create process steam in the brewhouse. This translates to an estimated reduction in fuel oil use in brewhouse operations by more than half. With moderate company growth, ABC anticipates a savings of almost 1.5 million gallons of oil over the next 10 years.
To find out how USDA’s energy programs can help your farm, ranch or business save energy click here.