A brewer’s responsibility is to drive unrivaled quality and consistency in beer. Capitalizing on the opportunity to craft world-class beers and to optimize brewery operations, brewers strive for continuous improvement. The Brewery Management Development Program (BMDP) provides the opportunity to participate in brewery optimization projects that aim to save and to make use of every last drop of raw materials used in the brewing process. In my first three weeks training in the brewing department at the historic Milwaukee Brewery I’ve been ambushing waste.
My optimization projects to date are focused on reducing extract loss in the brewhouse. Extract, the natural sugar present in brewing grains and adjuncts (i.e., malted barley, wheat, and rye and corn), is fermented by yeast to produce the MillerCoors beers that we all know and enjoy responsibly, down to every last drop. Preventing extract loss in the brewhouse benefits brewers because those sugars could move forward in the brewing process to be fermented into more delicious beer. MillerCoors constantly works to rid itself of the haunting premonitions of would-be-beers. As Marc Antony said,
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So too is it with lost extract.
Extract exists in both solid and liquid forms. In the solid form, milling renders the extract as malt grits or flour. I’m actively surveying the malt transfer systems to find where extract may be escaping. Prevention could manifest itself into a lot of fine beers.
The mixing of warm water with the milled malt results in liquid extract, and yeast can’t get enough of it. They feed on these sugars and as a result produce alcohol and carbon dioxide (beer!). I’ve completed one survey and am planning others to find the amount of sugars that may be lost down the drain, never to be fermented into a delicate, delicious beer.
Extract conservation and waste reduction are important at MillerCoors. By reducing extract loss we effectively need and use less malt. This has a cascading effect on natural resource utilization. Less water is needed to grow less brewing grains because of better efficiency in the brewing process. Less use of water and resources puts less strain on the environment. Put simply, MillerCoors works to save every last drop.