Monday, February 18, 2008

Excess Water: Collection and Dispersal

After reading a blog post from the Bearded Brewing Co. about water conservation, and having a little dialog about it, I got inspired and decided it was time for action. The Bearded Brewer has been taking measures to be an environmentally responsible brewer, and I highly encourage a visit to his site.

Roughly 25 gallons flows through the immersion chiller to get 5-6 gallons of scalding hot wort down to fermentation temperatures. At my residence, a 6-unit 1920's building, there are many ways I can reuse this excess water.

I like how the Bearded Brewer collects his in large 7 gallon jugs, which can then be used at a later date. Living on the 2nd floor, and having a parking spot directly outside the back porch, I could easily fill a large jug and run a long hose out the window to wash the car or water the surrounding plants. There is also a garden along the west side of the building, and my next door neighbor would be able to utilize a collection jug from his 2nd story porch for watering the vegetables, herbs and flowers. Also, my top floor neighbor already collects numerous 2-3 gallon jugs for hydrating some 300+ plants, and perhaps I could make her chore a little easier.

As a way to get started I have been utilizing all of the excess water to run a load of laundry. So far it has been working great. I collect it with a 6 gallon bucket, and walk it over to the machine. Its a cold load of laundry, but I'm so excited to be using every last drop.

The best way to limit the total amount is to decrease the water pressure going through the coil. No matter how fast the flow, near boiling wort will transfer its heat into the running water within a few inches of coil. The flow only needs to be about half as strong as we think. Until I get collection jugs, I will use this method of reuse.

There are many ways we can lighten our impact on global destruction from excess waste. I would love to believe that most home brewers eventually take action in reducing their environmental footstep within their home brewing process. I highly encourage everyone to give it some thought, and to give those thoughts a try.

Sustainability 2008

Upcoming Planet Saving Projects

1. Carbon dioxide harvesting, compressing
2. Plant growth in carbon dioxide bubble
3. Grain waste mgt: compost, fertilizer, animal feed, etc.
4. Saving and recirculating cleaning/sterilizing solutions
5. Additional coolant water reuse
6. Buy organic/local ingredients
7. Grow brewing herbs, spices and hops
8. Yeast mgt: reuse, disposal

Let me know if this topic interests you.
I'll post more as these projects are completed.
I'd love to hear more ideas for home brewery sustainability.


Travis said...

Great subject matter to cover. You would love New Belgium. They are the most sustainable operation I have ever heard of.

"The best way to limit the total amount is to decrease the water pressure going through the coil. No matter how fast the flow, near boiling wort will transfer its heat into the running water within a few inches of coil."

This questions had crossed my mind many times. I was always in the school of thought that more worked better, but if less is more, all the better. In the summer when I am chilling my brew, I usually use the exiting water to rinse my car off. I figure something is better than nothing.

Good stuff.

The Bearded Brewer said...

Great post! I love your water reuse ideas and the list you've created. Maybe a bunch of people can chime in on what they do and we can create a master list of all the great things people do in their home brewing to be socially responsible.
I'd never thought about that with the wort chiller, like Travis I always assumed the more pressure, the better, but I'm going to rethink that now.
And he's spot on about New Belgium. There's a chapter in Fermenting Revolution about it, they do everything right. Even have an area for their spent grains to create gas to reuse before they go to a farm.
Anways, good post.

Ted Danyluk said...

Thanks guys.

I'm really going to focus on these sustainable topics and projects. I hope it becomes just as cool, where everyone starts to do something about their own environmental load while brewing. I also hope to hear responses from as many people possible. I would love to write up a master list of brewer's enviro-ideas.

Even running the water at half of full pressure, it passes through the immersion chiller coil quite fast. The most important thing is to have someone continually stirring the wort (w/ the chiller itself) during that whole stage. Once you stop stirring, you lose a lot of efficiency. I keep the wort flowing around the entire chiller by stirring to whirlpool the wort, stopping, whirlpooling again, and on and on.

New Belgium rocks. They are doing great things. Even though I tend to disagree with larger breweries distributing to farther away places, I believe its easier to go the extra mile in environmental design on a larger scale. I guess I would become brand loyal to any large importing (to Chicago) breweries going all-out on sustainability.

Kevin LaVoy said...

Great post. That water re-use thing has been on my mind as well. I brew on my back porch. Mostly I've used the water to clean out my MLT, and clean the deck from all the wort that boiled over earlier in the process. Now that I have a larger kettle, and that won't be an issue, I hope to be able to use it more efficiently. First, my wife is going to be planting a big garden this year in our back yard, so I'm guessing I can just attach a sprinkler to the end of the out hose. Failing that, we were thinking about getting a rain barrel anyway, and I could just empty it into that, from which Kerry could water stuff in the front and back of the house.

The grains and hops already go into the composter. We've been filling that thing all winter, and I'm looking forward to seeing what comes of that in the spring.

Great post though. I'm interested to see what other ideas people are coming up with that I could try to incorporate into my brewing processes. My dream would be to get an electric tankless water heater, and hook that baby up to some solar panels. That way the strike and sparge water could be almost up to temperature before the propane even gets turned on. I suppose you could even take that a step further and go full electric in the brew kettle and have a fully solar brew day.