Upcycling, everyone's business

Upcycling, l'affaire de tous

Up-cycling in beer

What's the difference between up-cycling and re-cycling?

The concept of recycling is to take an object, partially destroy it and then recover what can be reused to transform it into another object. Up-cycling, on the other hand, means using an object or product without any transformation process, and turning it into another product.
Typically in beer, cans or bottles are recycled, but this involves a process of transformation of the object itself, and this process requires energy. When you drink a beer can and put it in the aluminium garbage can, the can is collected, and then there are several stages. These include magnetic refining, crushing, purification and melting, rolling and winding to create new cans.

How many times can beer cans be recycled?

Indefinitely, as long as the person drinking the beer sorts out the can and puts it in the right garbage can. Otherwise, the can's life ends and it will never be recycled again.
You can read the " can versus bottle or listen to the episode on the subject if you're interested.

What exactly is up-cycling?

Well, if I stick to my can or bottle example. I'm going to use the used object, but without transforming it. For example, I need a candle holder for my restaurant. Instead of buying them, I'll use used bottles and transform them into candle holders.
More and more companies are creating products that are almost entirely up-cycled.
Take, for example, the lovely Portuguese company Mama Praia, which creates shoes using leather scraps from the major leather goods manufacturers.

How is up-cycled beer made?

The second ingredient in beer is malt. Malt is germinated cereal. There's barley malt, which is the most widely used, wheat malt, rye malt, oat malt, and so on. This makes up the bulk of our malt intake for beer, and then we can use unsprouted cereals. The other ingredients in beer are water, yeast and hops. So when I say cereals, yeast and water, what does that make you think of?
Yes, bread. Bread is cereal flour, often wheat, rye, spelt or other, with yeast, water, salt and sometimes a little fat. In beer, it's more or less the same thing.

So you could use bread to make beer?

You bet! But it only makes sense to use bread that hasn't been bought and is about to be thrown away, because you're reusing ingredients that you need for beer.
We crush the malt, but we use less than on a normal brew, and then, in the boiling vat, we add the rest of the cereal requirements along with unsold bread cut into pieces.

Are there many breweries making beer with unsold bread?

The first to do so in Europe was Brussel Beer Project in Brussel, with their famous Babylone. This brewery became famous for it.
After that, more and more breweries emerged. Whitefrontier has just released a beer made with unsold bread. It's called Hopcycling, Hop for hops and cycling for the pun on UP-cycling. It's an IPA made in collaboration with the Michellod bakery. We picked up some unsold white bread and replaced some of the malt with this bread. The result is a bread IPA with strong cereal notes and an assertive bitterness.
Did you know that 25% of the world's baked goods are thrown away? So while this beer won't change the world, it does shed light on the phenomenon of food waste.
Nothing is thrown away, everything is transformed. For example, in the brewery, all our leftover cereals are donated to local farmers.

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