Guinness is probably the most popular beer exported from Ireland, but back home, it competes with more than 75 small, independently operated craft breweries. St. James Gate produces 50.7 million barrels of beer every year. But these ‘microbreweries’ can’t compete with that. They don’t need to. These beers are appealing to beer enthusiasts who enjoy discovering new flavours of craft beer brewed by knowledgeable and dedicated professionals. Despite its growth, Ireland’s beer sector is creating an increasing amount of food waste. For beer, grain is needed, but once the brewing process is over, the wet and steaming grain is discarded. The grain at this stage is referred to as ‘spent grain,’ but it is still perfectly edible.
In the United States, companies are recycling waste grain into food, but here in Ireland no one is doing it. Siblings Niamh and Ruairi Dooley from Ballykeeran, Athlone have joined forces to start a new food business called BiaSol, which aims to turn spent grain waste from breweries back into food. There has been a lot of research into the benefits of spent grain. I had the pleasure of meeting the brother-and-sister team at their Ferbane Business Park headquarters.