As almost all of our readers will attest, the beer brewing process is an intricate one requiring precision, great attention to detail, and focus! A significant concern for brewers, from novice to seasoned, is the amount of waste generated during the standard brew cycle. From the initial milling and mashing stage, to boiling and fermentation, to the bottling stage, beer wastage can occur at any point. In this article, The Session will detail various points at which wastage occurs, in the hope we can help our readers be a bit more cognisant of pain spots in the future.
During the milling process, it is common to lose anywhere from 1-3% of your grain due to dust being created as malt is ground into a fine powder. To mitigate this loss, make sure you are milling in a controlled environment to limit outside factors. Mashing will also result in some loss, typically 3-7%, as some of the wort will be absorbed by the grain. More efficient mashing systems will help to limit this loss as well.
Wastage opportunities, unfortunately, continue as your brew moves into the boiling and fermentation phases. Brewers can anticipate losing anywhere from 1-3% of the original volume due to evaporation. Pesky chemistry! During fermentation, the final process before having a finished brew, some more beer can be lost via a sedimentary layer that builds at the base of the fermentation tank. The longer the fermentation process, the more beer one can expect to lose thanks to this sediment build up. On average, the total loss ranges from 2 to 5% during fermentation.
As mentioned at the start, we at The Session share this information with our readers to build awareness. It is worth the effort to maintain clean brewing environments along with quality brewing machinery in order to lessen the impact of beer wastage on your brewing operations. Even with the best equipment, however, seasoned brewers can still expect anywhere from 8-19% loss during a full brew cycle. It is worth staying as “under control” as possible when brewing, as lower wastage leads to a better profit.