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The Science and Business of Beer

There is perhaps no alcoholic beverage more beloved by the world than beer. It is one of the world’s favourite and oldest drinks, dating back 7,000 years. DCODE explores the rise of International Beer Day, craft beer and its eco-friendly future.

International Beer Day

International Beer Day

Founded in 2007 by Jesse Avshalomov and his friends, International Beer Day was first held in 2008.

According to Avshalomov, he and his friends felt ‘there needed to be a day in celebration of all things beer, a day in thanks to the people who produce and provide our favourite beverage.’

After holding the first event in a local bar in Santa Cruz, California, they created a website and soon received emails from people across the globe who were inspired to hold celebrations of their own.

A decade later, people now celebrate International Beer Day in 207 cities across 50 countries on six continents.

Craft Beer Explosion

International Beer Day
Vietnam is emerging as a leader of the Southeast Asian craft beer market.

As International Beer Day has grown in stature, so too has the culture of beer appreciation.

Mass-produced beer might still be good enough for most of us, but true beer aficionados prefer something artisanal – craft beer.

Brewed on a much smaller scale than their big-brand counterparts, craft beers have rapidly risen in popularity over the last decade or so.

In 2017 in the US alone US$26 billion worth of craft beer was sold, accounting for 23.6% of beer sales for the year. At the end of 2017 there were 6,266 craft breweries in the US, more than double that number in 2013.

Instead of spending on marketing and branding, craft brewers focus on freshness and quality of ingredients along with innovative brewing techniques such as barrel-aging.

The result is a wide variety of high-quality beers with distinct colours, flavours and bouquets, each competing in the marketplace based on their quality rather than image or brand recognition.

There are beers that utilise non-traditional ingredients such as roots, wild dandelions and elderberries. Some craft brewers have concocted beer that tastes like fruit juice, and even chocolate.

The prioritisation of developing a beer’s character and traits has struck a chord with beer lovers the world over.

Eco-friendly Beer

International Beer Day
Beer production creates enough spent grain to fill 77,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools every year.

The future of beer brewing could soon be a lot more eco-friendly, thanks to researchers at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

Yeast is crucial for fermenting the sugars in grains like hops or barley, turning them into alcohol, an important part of the brewing process.

During fermentation, protein and other nutrients leach from the grains along with the sugars, leaving spent grain.

This spent grain makes up 85% of waste from beer production and has limited use, often being used for livestock feed or compost.

That could soon change though, as scientists have found a way to use food-grade micro-organisms to break down the spent grain into nutritious nuggets.

The nuggets can then be made into a nutrient liquid which is perfect for feeding yeast. The process is said to be very cost effective and will make brewing a more sustainable industry.

It will also save on production costs, water and the resources previously used to grow yeast, which can be redirected to other uses instead.

If we consider that over 196 billion litres of beer is produced worldwide each year, and one kilogramme of spent grain is created for every five litres of beer, there are substantial resource savings to be made.

A Toast to . . .

International Beer Day falls on the first Friday of every August. This year, why not raise a glass, mug or bottle to the people who make beer possible.

Even if you do not drink beer, you can raise your beverage of choice to toast the scientists making the world a better place by increasing the sustainability of beer production.

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