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Alaska brewery powered by … beer

Eric Pfeiffer
The Sideshow

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The Alaska Brewing Co.'s Brandon Smith stands in front of his company's new broiler system that uses spent grains …

A brewery is Alaska is being fueled by its own beer – in a manner of speaking.

The Alaskan Brewing Co. (ABC) plans to use spent grain from the brewing process to help power the majority of the brewery’s functions and reduce energy costs by 70 percent.

"We had to be a little more innovative just so that we could do what we love to do, but do it where we're located," ABC co-founder Geoff Larson told the Associated Press.

The process works using an expensive broiler system purchased by the brewery, which will convert the grain into steam. Or, as the ABC officials put it, they are now creating, “beer-powered beer,” in one of the nation’s largest craft breweries.

And even though the brewery spent $1.8 million on the broiler, minus a $500,000 federal grant, it is expected to save the company money over the long run. Brandon Smith, the brewery’s operations and engineering manager, says the new broiler will save his company about $450,000 per year.

“Renewable energy is one of the integral components to Alaska’s future. The new steam boiler at ABC is a great example of a forward-thinking approach to harnessing a new fuel source,” Alaska Rural Development State Director Jim Nordlund said in a statement on the U.S. Department of Agriculture website. “We’re happy to have played a part in this company’s innovation.”

Most breweries sell their spent grains to local farms for a profit. But because of the Alaskan brewery’s remote location, drying and shipping the grain was proving to be both expensive and wasteful.

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