Montana is already rocking the local brewing scene with the state’s unique spirit and atmosphere.
And a native of Great Falls, Taylor Woods, founder of CO Brew, Inc. in Missoula, is making it even better by developing ways to capture and use the carbon dioxide produced in the brewing process.
Paul Roys, chief brewer at Lolo Peak Brewing Co. in Lolo, the first brewery in Montana to implement the system, says creating carbon dioxide is the most expensive part of brewing. When the yeast ferments the sugars in the wort, carbon dioxide is naturally created as a byproduct, but there is usually no way to use it.
“We are creating a lot more than we need,” he said. “And we blow it up in the air, then buy it from a guy on the road who has to travel hundreds of miles to get it here.”
Using the CO Brew system, Roys said they are able to capture, clean and reuse the carbon dioxide they produce, reducing their carbon footprint by more than 90 percent, which is important because they calculate that they produce the annual equivalent of the emissions of 250 cars per day.
Reducing that amount by such a large amount is a huge benefit for everyone, plus they can use an ingredient that they make in-house.
“We are reusing this gas as a push gas to transfer beer from one tank to another,” Roys explained. “We also use it in carbonation. “
Roys said the decision to implement the system goes beyond financial sense. “It will save us a bit of money,” he said. “But it is above all the factor of well-being. Using less is always better.
This type of carbon dioxide capture is not a new technology in the brewing industry, but it is something that has never been available for small farms, especially in more remote parts of the world. State and country.
It all started because Woods saw an unmet need for Montana breweries.
“It all started with Taylor Woods visiting a brewery and checking it out,” said Tresha Sanders, CO Brew Marketing Technologist. When Woods noticed they were releasing a product they needed in other aspects of the process, he worked on a way for them to keep what they needed.
Overall, there is a lot of carbon dioxide created in this age-old art of brewing than many people realize. Sanders noted that on average, the brewing process produces 11 to 13 pounds of carbon dioxide per barrel. Nationally, 25 million barrels of beer were produced in 2017, equivalent to 300 million pounds of carbon dioxide potentially released into the atmosphere.
“That’s an insane amount of gas,” Sanders said.
While it was perfectly acceptable to emit gas, and it often went straight out the door, Woods thought it made more sense to be able to capture and use it.
Moreover, the already high figures for the amount of gas produced during the brewing process do not even take into account the emissions created to bring additional carbon dioxide back to the brewery for use.
“There is a huge lag between the brewing process and the carbon dioxide they use,” Sanders said. Using the CO Brew system, brewers capture carbon dioxide, then use it to push liquid from tank to tank, as well as for packaging, cleaning, and adding additional carbonation if needed. .
Woods especially noticed that there was nothing on the market for small and medium-sized breweries to capture and use what they make, because even though it is on a smaller scale, it is still the cost to the brewery plus add to overall carbon carbon dioxide emissions.
“Small craft breweries can start doing this,” she said.
While Roys at Lolo Peak was the first to try the system, more and more breweries are realizing the benefits.
“Where it’s really going to come into play is in geographically isolated places,” Roys said. “Even in small rural Montana towns.”
Missoula is known to be at the forefront when it comes to environmental concerns, and Conflux Brewery is the latest Montana-based brewery to understand the potential impact, both financial and environmental, that the carbon dioxide recovery system can. to supply. By incorporating it into their design, they reduce emissions from the start.
“Montana can be a leader in carbon dioxide recovery,” Sanders said. “We are a very environmentally conscious state.
“We’re also starting to expand beyond the state,” Sanders said. They are currently installing systems in Alaska, as well as in Nunavut, Canada’s northernmost territory (and previously part of the Northwest Territories).
“What starts out as a small business in Montana will soon become an integral part of building any new brewery,” she noted.
Being able to reuse what was previously waste is always a good thing, and the CO Brew system makes breweries in Montana, and beyond, feel even better about the exceptional beer they produce.