Feds trying to clamp down on breweries recycling spent grains

For Weekly SurgeFebruary 17, 2014 

Beer is made mostly from malted barley – lots of it. Most batches brewed in our area by the likes of New South, Liberty and Gordon Biersch use anywhere from 500 pounds of barley to 1,000 pounds. Once the delicious, sweet wort is lautered (drained) off the grain, they are left with hundreds of pounds of soggy, spent barley. As a home brewer, I use between 10 and 30 pounds of grain in a typical brew day. I donate mine to the local deer and wildlife that come out after dark for a sweet treat – but what would someone do with thousands of pounds of the stuff?

Turns out that not only do the deer like spent grain, but other more delicious animals such as cows and pigs like it, too. And according to local farmers, they love it. An adult cow will eat more than 40 pounds of spent grain a day.

Sounds like a win-win situation for all involved – brewers get to dispose of bulky, messy grain and farmers get cheap or free feed for their livestock. Plus, the grain is now being used instead of turning into waste that will pile up in a landfill. Brewers and environmentalists are cheering, farmers are getting a financial break and cows are mooing with joy. But for larger brewers who sell their spent grain, the government is stepping in to try and regulate the practice.

It has been brought to the attention of the Food and Drug Administration, which thinks that breweries and distilleries should be forced to adopt certain food-handling practices. Namely, writing a food safety plan, keeping meticulous records, utilizing strict cross-contamination and sanitization controls and implementing a recall program in case a breach in food safety practices occurs.

With livestock being pumped full of GMOs (genetically modified organisms), antibiotics and hormones, I don’t really see a problem with feeding them wholesome spent brewing grains. Even though the rule only applies to breweries selling large quantities of grain and doesn’t apply to any of our local brewers, it still makes for unneeded policy and regulation.

The FDA is taking comments on the proposed rules until March 31, so if you feel strongly about it and would like to have your voice heard, go to: www.regulations.gov.

Rum “We Think” Barrel-aged Porter

We were able to leave the house with the baby again last Friday, in between ice storms, and head over to Myrtle Beach’s New South for Happy Hour. I had seen a mysterious photo on Facebook, posted by Operations Manager, Roddy Graham, of a barrel being emptied into a keg. Graham teased us with the photo and the simple words of “it’s happening… get ready for tomorrow’s release.” I was very excited to try the Rum “I Think” Barrel-aged Porter and was not disappointed. Why is it “I Think”? Graham explained that the barrel was purchased from a distiller in Charleston, who produces not only bourbon, but also rum and gin. So, after tasting the finished product and deciding that it was probably not a typical bourbon barrel-aged beer, they decided the barrel was probably used not only for bourbon, but had probably held rum in it, too. The guys at New South Brewing, while not known for taking themselves too seriously, have created a seriously delicious variant of their already scrumptious Dark Star Porter.

Down the street at Liberty Steakhouse and Brewing, Brewmaster Mike Silvernale has a definite hit on his hands with his new Black IPA. Sometimes called a Cascadian Dark Ale or an American Black Ale, the Black IPA is exactly that – a super hoppy, lightly roasty, all-black IPA. Silvernale’s pours a midnight-black and sports a creamy off-white head that clings tightly to the glass as it is emptied. The mouth feel of the beer is also creamy, with a nice, smooth American hop character. The beer uses plenty of American hops – Chinook and Amarillo. I asked Silvernale if he dry-hopped the Black IPA and he told me that upon taking the first sips of the finished beer, he and Liberty General Manager David Thurber decided that the IPA didn’t actually need it. I was definitely pleased with the level of hoppiness. The Black IPA has been on tap for a few weeks, so make sure you stop by and grab a pint and growler before it is tapped out.

More local brews news

Foothills Brewing of Winston-Salem, N.C. released the new batch of its highly sought-after imperial stout, Sexual Chocolate a few weeks ago. While I’ve never made the trip to the brewery on release day, I’m always excited to taste this brew every year. It used to be a bit harder to find here at the beach, but now we usually land a few kegs that make their way to growler stations and bars. The 9.75 percent ABV (alcohol by volume) imperial stout pours an opaque jet-black and the aroma of dark chocolate wafts to your nose long before your lips hit the glass. It sold out quickly when it was put on the growler station at the Piggly Wiggly at Market Common, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few more kegs pop up around town

Brewvival is this weekend in North Charleston and has completely sold out.

Meanwhile, Irish Fest will be held at Valor Park at Market Common on March 15 and will feature many delicious craft beers.

And tickets are on sale for the Myrtle Beach Beer Festival, being held March 29 at the House of Blues.

Check out www.myrtlebeachbeerfest.com for tickets and details.

Contact John Garner at MBCraftBeer@gmail.com and follow him at www.facebook.com/TheNewBeerman.

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