There are unique demands to brewing in the remote coastal community of Juneau. With no roads leading in or out, the ingredients we use to make our beer travel 900 miles by barge before arriving at our brewhouse. Alaskan Brewing seeks the most lean, efficient and sustainable modes of production to be able to grow without compromising quality or increasing our environmental footprint.
CO2 Recovery System
In 1998, Alaskan Brewing became the first craft brewery in the United States to install and operate a carbon dioxide (CO2) reclamation system. The system captures and cleans carbon dioxide, a natural byproduct of the brewing process, and uses it to package the beer and purge oxygen from holding tanks, saving money and the environment. This system preventsoverone millionpounds of CO2, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming, from being released into the atmosphere each year. That is equivalent to preventing the emissions from using more than 45,000 gallons of gasoline annually.
Spent Grain Steam Boiler Manybreweries distribute the grain left over from the brewery process, or "spent grain" to nearby farms. With no livestock inJuneau, Alaskan Brewing has been drying and then shipping our spent grain to farmers and ranchers in the Pacific Northwest for nearly 20 years. In 2011, we put our experience to work by developing a first-of-its-kindsteam boiler fueled entirely by ourspent grain. With the new system, which became fully operational at the end of 2012, we expect to reduce our overall oil use by more than 65 percent.
Most breweries distribute the grain leftover from the brewing process, or "spent grain," to nearby farms. Due to our remote location, we have to ship our spent grain to Seattle for distribution to farmers and ranchers in the Pacific Northwest. The grain must first be stabilized, or dried, to prevent it from decomposing during the long trip south. We do this in our self-sustaining grain dryer, which is heated by a biomass burner that uses about 50 percent of our spent grain as a fuel source. We are the only craft brewery in the country to operate this spent grain drying system.
Mash Filter Press
In 2008, Alaskan Brewing found a way to balance innovation, quality, and efficiency with the installation of a mash filter press. We are the first craft brewery in the United States to employ this Belgian-based brewing technology, which allows us to reduce the amount of water, malt and hops needed to make our beer, while maintaining high quality and consistency. In one year, the mash filter pressusednearly 2 million fewer gallons of water and 6 percent less malt to make the same amount of beer as our traditional brewing process. The unique design of the mash filter press also reduces the moisture content in the spent grains, which further reduces the energy required to dry the grain before it is transported to farms in the Pacific Northwest. This results in a savingsnearly 65,000 gallons of diesel fuel each year-enough for a truck to travel around the world 50 times!
Before thermometers were invented, brewers would dip a thumb into the mix to find the right temperature for adding yeast. Too cold, and the yeast wouldn't grow. Too hot, and the yeast would die. This became known as rule of thumb.