Narrator: Like many food and beverage manufacturers, breweries produce process wastes.
Narrator: Brewery process wastes contain a lot of organic material like yeast, spent grains, and trub.
Narrator: These wastes can pose a challenge to manage through municipal wastewater systems, since facilities vary in available
capacity to handle high strength wastes. Narrator: Many cannot accept a large amount of brewery waste and still provide needed
treatment services to the rest of the community. Nick Giannetti, VT DEC: The municipal wastewater treatment facility is crucial in
protecting Vermont’s surface waters. They’re the one who receiving and treating this wastewater and discharging it to the river itself.
Nick Giannetti: Food and beverage manufacturers can indirectly impact Vermont’s surface waters if they adversely impact the
wastewater treatment facility. Steve Miller, Brewer, The Alchemist: Our wastewater – our effluent – from the brewery
goes to the Stowe Wastewater Treatment Facility. Steve Miller: They discharge to the Moscow
River, which leads into the Waterbury Reservoir, which discharges into the Winooski River, which goes directly to Lake Champlain.
Steve Miller: So even everything that we do here we feel is part of our responsibility for the health of Lake Champlain.
Chris Rockwood, Head Brewer, Magic Hat Brewing Company: So when you’re designing a brewery, one of the things that people kind of
step over is wastewater generation. Chris Rockwood: For us, being in South Burlington was important because this is where
our community was, this is where the brewery started, this is where our roots are. Robert Wells, Wastewater Superintendent,
Middlebury, VT: Wastewater facilities, the way I look at it, [are] a resource. Robert Wells: If you have a facility that is
discharging into our treatment facility but they’re not using best management practices, they’re utilizing a portion of our facility that
could be used as a resource for another facility to come in. Scott Rice, Owner/Brewer, Woodstock Inn:
When we first started, we didn’t do anything. We just put everything down the drain. Scott Rice: That came to an end quickly when
the local sewer treatment plant was in trouble. Jay Pimpare, Regional Pretreatment Coordinator, EPA: The brewery industry has
become a fast-growing sector, and EPA is encouraged to see that many breweries have adopted best management practices in order to
control high strength organic waste from being discharged into out municipal sewer systems. Scott Rice: We’re just careful about a real
culture of trying to use as little water as we can. No beer goes down the drain. Scott Rice: We recycle all the cleaning
chemicals that we use, so we use them over and over again. Scott Rice: The big bulk that’s left over from the
brewing process of course is the mash. [We] take the spent grain out of the mash tun, we load it into our trailer. It gets picked up on
Fridays and then it goes to a dairy farm for the milking herd of some local farmers. Scott Rice: Other parts that are left over are the
yeast and also the hops, that cows just don’t like. We put those in totes and we bring those to a local composting facility right in town here.
Narrator: Scott is describing side-streaming. Side-streaming keeps process wastes separate from wastewater. The wastes are then reused
or more efficiently managed. Narrator: BOD, or biochemical oxygen demand, is a measure of the organic content in
wastewater. An average American household produces wastewater that has a BOD of around 300 milligrams per liter (mg/L).
Steve Miller: Just before we started all of our side-streaming at our Waterbury brewery, our BOD load going down to the town of Waterbury was
about 20,000 mg/L. Steve Miller: After really working on our side-streaming and getting as much out as we
possibly can, we average around 1500 mg/L. Steve Miller: And that’s … just side-streaming, being very crazy about catching every drop of
beer, all the yeast. Everything we can, we catch it and get rid of it beforehand. Narrator: Side-streaming sometimes solves one
problem but creates other challenges. Chris Rockwood: Side-streaming was a great process for us, but the amount of waste we
were generating would necessitate a truck coming in to pick up the roll away tank every 6-7 hours. And that was just for our liquid waste.
Chris Rockwood: When you add on another truck coming to pick up your spent grain every 8-12 hours, you’re getting 4-5 trucks a day in
and out of the brewery every day we were in production. So as production grew that traffic flow was increasing.
Narrator: Chris solved his process waste problem with an anaerobic digester. Anaerobic digesters make meticulous side-streaming
less important because all high strength wastewater goes to the digester, where bacteria convert the organic material in the
waste to methane gas which can be used for heating or electricity. Narrator: The pretreated wastewater is then
sent to the municipal wastewater treatment facility. Chris Rockwood: The anaerobic digester
provides a number of benefits, not the least of which is a business benefit for us. Chris Rockwood: We’re able to eliminate the
trucking costs of side-streaming all of our waste, and we’re able to cut our electrical costs by 60%. Those net up to a big savings for the
Chris Rockwood: Spent grain can be hauled away and used as feed supplement for local animals and farms. The dewatering process of
the digester also creates a wonderful nutrient rich fertilizer that we can then use for local farms as well.
Narrator: Bioreaction, sometimes called aerobic treatment, is a more traditional means of treating wastewater. It works by providing
oxygen to microorganisms to help them break down organic wastes. Narrator: It can also help remove phosphorus
and other pollutants. The Alchemist uses this type of system in Stowe, Vermont. Steve Miller: At our brewery here in Stowe, we
practice all the side-streaming that we do at our Waterbury brewery, with the exception being that we have an aerobic bacteria digester here
in Stowe. Steve Miller: The digester needs a certain amount of BOD and strength coming through to
support the aerobic bacteria. So there are certain points along the line in Stowe where we don’t practice the same extreme side-streaming
as we do in Waterbury. Steve Miller: Our effluent coming into our wastewater pretreatment system will run about
4000 mg/L BOD. By the time it’s leaving the wastewater treatment system and going to the town of Stowe it’s down to about 0.2 mg/L of
BOD. Narrator: That’s over a 99% reduction of BOD. 0.2 BOD is about 1500 times less than an
average household discharges. Scott Rice: As far as the BOD levels go, the town’s wastewater treatment system was
getting a surcharge, or just disposal charges, of over $80-100,000 a year because or our discharge, which they were happy to share with
us. We were paying $80-90,000 a year. Narrator: So Scott began to side-stream, but he still had to pay $60-$70,000 a year in
surcharges. He then invested in a pretreatment system and eliminated the surcharges. Scott Rice: We’ve been able to get the BOD
levels down to under 300 consistently, sometimes under 200. So the system will probably have about a 6-year payback for us.
Narrator: In addition to high BOD, breweries can discharge large amounts of phosphorus, leading to harmful algal blooms and low oxygen
levels that can harm aquatic ecosystems. Steve Miller: We’re having a real issue in Lake Champlain, our large lake, with algae blooms.
A lot of that is [attributed] to excess phosphorus. Our system here, we’re removing 96% of our phosphorus load before it goes
down, eventually, to Lake Champlain.
Narrator: Pretreatment programs work to regulate breweries work to regulate breweries and other food and beverage processors and
ensure their wastewater streams can be safely and effectively treated by the receiving facility.
Nick Giannetti: The pretreatment program relies on partners to reach any entity producing high strength waste or discharging high strength
Nick Giannetti: We use partners such as the DEC’s Environmental Assistance office, the Vermont Rural Water Association, and the EPA
and municipalities. Jay Pimpare: Craft breweries find themselves in the vanguard of an entrepreneurial
environmental movement in Vermont, New Hampshire, and around the country. They are reducing their high strength wastewater while
finding markets for their waste products. Jay Pimpare: These breweries then help keep America’s surface waters clean while providing
their unique innovations on American tradition.