Craft beer is one of the fastest growing sectors of the food and beverage industry, growing at a time when more mainstream beer categories are trending backwards. But it takes a lot of water and energy to extract all the good stuff from hops.
Beer is composed mostly of water; however, the amount of water used to produce beer is far greater than the amount of water contained in the beer itself. According to The Brewers Association, the average water use ratio for a brewery is around seven barrels of water to one, although many craft brewers are world leaders with ratios below three to one.
The Challenge of Treating Brewery Wastewater
For all breweries, water consumption and wastewater disposal are important environmental and economic considerations. Breweries are typically regulated for parameters such as pH, biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), chemical oxygen demand (COD), and total suspended solids (TSS), although they can also be regulated for nitrogen, phosphorus, temperature, and wastewater volume.
High-strength wastewater steams containing trub, spent yeast, and hops can make brewery wastewater difficult for municipalities to treat, resulting in expensive surcharges. Some municipalities are not equipped to deal with high-strength brewery wastewater, as was the case with the Town of Creston, which treats wastewater from Kokanee beer.
On-site Wastewater Treatment for Breweries
The alternative is to treat the wastewater at the brewery itself. However, nearly every time the team at ADI Systems speaks with craft brewers, the message is the same: “we want to brew beer, not manage complex wastewater treatment systems.” And it’s true! The best wastewater treatment system is one that satisfies strict discharge requirements—without interfering with what brewers do best.
Anaerobic digestion (AD) is well-suited for brewery wastewater. An on-site AD system can help brewers reduce—even eliminate—wastewater surcharges, increase capacity, and gain greater control over the environmental impact of their operations. Better yet, anaerobic technologies allow brewers to tap into green energy already present in wastewater.
Finding the Right Treatment System
Breweries of all sizes can achieve success with on-site wastewater treatment. Spoetzl Brewery, for example, uses an ADI-BVF® reactor to comply with regulations—and recovers biogas as a fuel source for its boiler. Oland Brewery, which is located in a crowded, urban area, uses a space-saving external circulation sludge bed (ESCB). New Belgium Brewing uses an anaerobic membrane bioreactor (AnMBR), which produces a superior quality effluent. It’s just a question of finding the right system.
Still not sure about investing in on-site wastewater treatment? Consider a pilot before installing a full-sized system to gain confidence that it’s the appropriate solution for your brewery.
Download our brochure to learn how ADI Systems can help you
better manage brewery wastewater.