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VIDEO: Victoria beer brewer boosts local cattle farms with spent grain

Disposing of spent grain could be a costly problem for brewer, but helps farmers’ bottom lines

As his title suggests, Jay Bell – Brewer, Chief of Procurement and Other Silly Things – is responsible for a variety of tasks at Hoyne Brewing Co.

Farmer wrangling is among those jobs.

The beer making process can leave behind roughly 675,000 pounds a year of spent grain. Instead of finding disposal, the Victoria brewery instead disperses it to small farms to feed cattle.

“It’s a perfect thing. It really helps them cut their feed bill,” Bell said.

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Staff take barley and break the kernels down, leaving big chunks of husk. They hit it with hot water and heat to 65 C to convert those starches to fermentable sugars and let it sit a bit. The grain is carefully filtered with water, “getting all that good sweetness out,” then drained and left behind like a mash tun of oatmeal.

Staff dig it out of the mash tun and put it in containers for farmers to pick up. Hoyne staff know roughly how much will be left behind, and when, at the start of the week.

That’s when “farmer wrangling” begins for Bell.

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Pickup logistics are important so the big bins don’t sit around getting smelly. Luckily, the company has cultivated relationships and works with seven to 10 small area farms at any given time.

While the grain has been juiced of some nutrients, it still holds value as cattle feed.

“It’s still useful. It can’t be the only thing that they feed cattle but they can definitely make up a good bulk with this,” Bell said. “They appreciate it, and they show it.”

The partnership is a classic win-win – disposing of spent barley could also become a costly problem.

Spent grain at Hoyne Brewing in Victoria helps keep cattle feed costs down for local farmers in the region. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)

Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

Longtime journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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