From Grain to Glass & Back to Earth: Pure Project’s Grain Cycle

From Grain to Glass & Back to Earth: Pure Project’s Grain Cycle

Posted by Winslow Sawyer

1 year ago | October 27, 2022

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes, 51 seconds

Did you know that grain is the largest ingredient in our beer (besides water)? Because we strive to make our brewing operations as sustainable as possible, it was important for us to find uses for this main ingredient—from grain to glass and beyond.

Read on for a look into our grain cycle here at Pure Project, including where some of our grain comes from, why we choose that grain, and where the spent grain goes once it’s done its beer job. Hint: it doesn’t go to waste!

 

MEET ADMIRAL MALTINGS

A good beer starts at the source, and that’s why one of our grain providers is Alameda-based Admiral Maltings, California’s only California Certified Organic Farmers-certified (CCOF) malting operation. Admiral Maltings partners with local California farmers to grow high-quality, locally grown, no-till or organic barley. The grain is floor malted at their facility in Alameda, with the germinating malt being turned by hand. This produces a freshly kilned, handcrafted malt that’s ideal for brewing. 

Beyond their grain’s great qualities and the interesting process it goes through to become beer, Admiral Maltings connects with Pure Project’s ethos in more ways than one. Admiral Maltings is not only a California-based company—we always aim to work with companies close to home—but they also lean towards organic and dry farming methods whenever possible, thus further aligning with Pure Project’s value of sustainability. 

FROM GRAIN TO GLASS

We are on track to use around 464,000 pounds of grain in our beer in 2022 alone—and as small as a piece of grain is, that’s certainly no small number. For perspective, hops, though typically given more of a spotlight than grain in today’s beer environment, make up much less of the beverage. We’re planning to use around 20,000 pounds of hops in 2022 versus the significantly larger grain number noted above!

And fun fact: A lot of grain means a lot of grain bags, and we reuse those grain bags in all of our taprooms as trash bags.

After the grain is milled and mashed, and its sugars extracted, its use for beer is over… but its journey to the next part of the cycle has just begun.

 

FROM GLASS TO A LOCAL FARM…

Since we use so much grain throughout the year, we were thrilled to have found a way to utilize our spent grain rather than just throwing it away. 

Enter KD Farms Trucking in Escondido, California. We were initially introduced to KD Farms in 2018 by friends at Mikkeller Brewing Company, our neighbors in Miramar, who were employing them to pick up their spent grain. Our head brewer, Winslow, was excited about forming a relationship with KD Farms and for the opportunity to give our grain a second life.

After making beer, our spent grain is picked up by KD Farms where it then makes its way to their sister company, Frank Konyn Dairy (also in Escondido, CA). This family-run dairy is a part of the California Dairies Inc. cooperative and practices sustainable agriculture while housing around 880 milking cows. The spent grain that was once used to make our beer has now made a new home for itself at Frank Konyn Dairy and is given an entirely different use: dairy cattle feed.

 

…AND BEYOND!

The process doesn’t end there. Once that feed gets eaten by the cattle and becomes manure, it is converted by KD Farms’ local 13-acre soil division facility, San Pasqual Valley Soils, into compost and sold throughout Southern California as fertilizer. KD Farms Trucking, Frank Konyn Dairy, and San Pasqual Valley Soils have created a remarkable cycle within the companies themselves to repurpose our brewery’s spent grain in different ways, supporting sustainability and this earth we call home.

We are grateful for the ability to use our spent grain as a force for good—and it’s all thanks to these incredible partners and YOU! Next time you pick up a glass of Pure West, Tropical Mist, or another Pure Project brew… you can feel good knowing that the journey of our grain doesn’t stop at the glass.