Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Worms Can't Get Enough

Thousand and thousands of hungry worms chow down on every last spent grain. Apparently, they can't get enough, so Mikey says. He's built up a hefty supply of red wigglers, and would love to sell you a pound if you like.

They are a thinner cousin of the basic sidewalkin-after-a-big-rainfall earthworm, but possess a much larger appetite. Vermicomosting is what he does. I'm happy to have someone willing to haul my weekly sac of spent grains far away, especially because it will be turned into something as great as the beer it originally made...black gold. Worm castings/compost is a nitrogen rich soil enhancer (at about 20-30%), and perfect in potting soils or for rejuvenating old garden earth.

It's Earth Day today. I figured this was an important subject to bring up. Brewing is hard physical and mental work. It takes hours of concentration, lifting, pouring, stirring, crushing, cleaning, etc. At the end of the day, lets face it, its difficult to imagine doing anything more besides downing a few brews during the whole process. But in fact, there is more work to be done to minimize the resulting environmental stress. There is a lot of waste when brewing beer like combustion-fuel/gas, water, spent grains & hops, yeast, CO2, sanitizing & sterilizing agents, bottle caps and old plastic hoses, plastic bags, and more. There are ways to reduce, and/or eliminate, most of these, but it takes thoughtfulness and action.

The Bearded Brewer in Minnesota has been writing about some of these issues, and has helped increase sustainable awareness in brewing. After reading about his efforts with water conservation, I decided to take action in some areas too. It's very important to take care of our small and fragile planet, and if I can't reduce and/or eliminate most of my brewing waste, then I'll have to find some other hobby that isn't so wasteful. The beer is tasting so darn good, so I'm pretty sure I will.

Take a look at other green ambitions
in a post earlier this year...

Sustainability 2008


Kevin LaVoy said...

I just want to say that people shouldn't be scared away from composting if they're not into worms. Chicago has an ordinance that says compost must be fully covered by a container (no food for rats), so we have one of those in our back yard. It's a sort of black garbage can with a removable top. Dumping spent grains into it is a great way to speed up the composting process for everything else that goes in (veggie scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds, etc.).

The Bearded Brewer said...

Great post Ted. We are going to start composting spent grains and hops this summer. Good topic on Earth day.

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mezlove said...

Hey Ted
Great piece. I've started freezing my spent grain and using it in my baking, for bread, pizza dough, bagels, whatever. I end up with around 8 cups of grain after a 5 gallon batch of beer and I've had success using about a cup per batch of bread. Going to keep increasing the grain to flour ratio until I find the optimum point.

Also, as far as worms go, I've had success feeding my worms spent grain in the past, but I'm going to try using the spent hops. Not sure how that's going to work, but we'll see. Hoping to use that worm poop in the spring when I start growing my own hops.