This brewery is turning beer into green energy

Photo credit: Hall & Woodhouse.

By Anders Lorenzen

A brewery in Dorset, UK saw an opportunity during lockdown to limit waste and increase green energy production.

As pubs across the UK were forced to close in the lockdown, Hall & Woodhouse, an independent regional brewer, took an innovative approach in order to avoid wasting the thousands of litres of beer which has already been brewed. The returned beer, which due to sell-by dates would otherwise have been thrown away, was turned into electricity and powered the equivalent of 17,000 homes for a day or around 46 homes for one whole year.

Toby Heasman, Hall & Woodhouse Head Brewer, explained: “Although lockdown meant that many of our pubs had to return unsold beer back to the brewery, the silver lining has been that none of this has gone to waste. Thanks to our wastewater treatment plant, all of the returned beer has been used to generate green electricity.”

The brewery supplies beer to 180 pubs across the south of England and even though pubs were closed, fans of their award-winning Badger Ales turned to local supermarkets to supply the beers which led to a boom in sales. The increase in demand through supermarkets and stockists also served to boost the amount of green electricity produced by the brewery, as all wastewater created during the brewing process is also processed through the sustainable electricity generators.

Green revamp

Toby explained in detail that back in 2015 the brewer decided to invest in green solutions: “Brewing is a highly energy-intensive process, so as far back as 2015, we started to look at ways we could incorporate more green energy into the way we work. We took the decision to make sustainable energy production an integral part of our new brewery, which came into operation in 2017. In addition to solar (PV) panels, we installed a wastewater treatment plant, which creates biogas. This is fed through a unit which generates electricity to power our packaging lines and utilities. Heat produced by the combined heat and power (CHP) engine is used to preheat the boiler feed water, which in turn produces steam to boil the beer,” he explained.  

Carbon neutrality

In order to fulfill their ambition to become carbon neutral Hall & Woodhouse have set a monthly target for the use of self-generated electricity– and sees green energy production as just one part of its longer-term objective to become carbon neutral.

Matt Kearsey, Managing Director, said: “As an independent family-owned brewer with a heritage stretching back nearly 250 years, innovating with new technologies and ways of working has been central to our continuing success. I’m pleased to say that we are continuing to look at new ways of maximising the creation of green energy to help conserve resources. We have a responsibility to operate consciously, and to take continual steps to improve sustainability, as part of ensuring that as a business we thrive for generations to come.”

As the UK government has started to ease lockdown restrictions, the brewery started to reopen its managed pubs with phased re-openings during April and May.

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