Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Iqaluit September 10, 2018 - 10:30 am

Iqaluit brewery aims to make its operation eco-friendly

“This is like the dreamy stuff you talk about elsewhere … but here it makes perfect sense”

COURTNEY EDGAR
Erik Pigeon, the head brewer at Nu Brew, pours hops into a kettle. Once this batch of beer has been brewed, the spent grain will be given to Qikiqtaaluk Environmental to help treat contaminated soil. (PHOTO BY COURTNEY EDGAR)
Erik Pigeon, the head brewer at Nu Brew, pours hops into a kettle. Once this batch of beer has been brewed, the spent grain will be given to Qikiqtaaluk Environmental to help treat contaminated soil. (PHOTO BY COURTNEY EDGAR)
Nu Brew has a plan to re-use its glass bottles. The company plans to pick up empties once a week from the city’s bars and restaurants. (PHOTO BY COURTNEY EDGAR)
Nu Brew has a plan to re-use its glass bottles. The company plans to pick up empties once a week from the city’s bars and restaurants. (PHOTO BY COURTNEY EDGAR)

Inside the tall, silver machine known as a lauter tun, at the back of Iqaluit’s new brewery, important parts of the beer-making process, called vorlauf and sparging, take place.

In the vorlauf stage, liquid is caught under a false bottom and recirculated on top of the grain to form a filter bed.

Then, during sparge, the leftover grain is sprinkled with fresh hot water to extract the sugars.

After vorlauf and sparge, the wort, or liquid sugar, is transferred to the kettle. It is in this process that a mash of spent grain is leftover inside the lauter tun. It typically goes to waste in most breweries.

However, at Nunavut Brewing Company Ltd., or Nu Brew, which opened its doors two weeks ago in Iqaluit, the spent grain waste is re-purposed. They collect spent grain in a giant tub and give it to Qikiqtaaluk Environmental Inc. to help treat contaminated soil.

“Each batch contains about 400 kg of grain which will soak up double its weight in water, leaving about 1200 kg of spent grain,” said Erik Pigeon, the head brewer at Nu Brew.

Since they plan to do about 114 brews per year, that is about 136,800 kilograms of spent grain that should avoid the landfill.

Nu Brew’s general manager, Katie Barbour, said this is just one example of how the company is trying to make its operations environmentally friendly.

For instance, carbon dioxide is a byproduct of making alcohol. If CO2 is released into the air, it becomes a greenhouse gas.

So, Nu Brew has purchased a machine that will enable them to capture this CO2 and use it to bubble their beer.

Breweries in southern Canada would likely see this machine as being prohibitively expensive. But it makes sense in Iqaluit, given the cost the brewery would otherwise pay to rent cylinders of CO2, said Barbour.

“This is like the dreamy stuff you talk about elsewhere, that you would love to do because it would be so good for the environment, but here it makes perfect sense,” Barbour said.

As well, the company initially planned to house its glycol chiller in a shed outside its main building, to protect it from winter temperatures.

“Then, we had a brilliant idea to move it inside to capture the heat it produces,” said Barbour.

They installed it in the business’s garage, “and we are now benefiting from the supplemented heat and reduced fuel bills,” said Barbour. “Win, win.”

Nu Brew also has a plan to re-use its bottles. Although some of Iqaluit’s beer cans get recycled through Bryan Hellwig’s operation, none of the city’s glass bottles are currently reused or recycled.

Instead, they’re ground up and sent to the landfill.

Nu Brew bought 36,000 glass bottles to start. But at $1.70 per empty bottle, the price, after air freight, is “staggering,” Barbour says. So they want to get their bottles back.

“How do you train a town that’s never really gotten into recycling and has no plan for glass to give us all of our bottles back so we can wash them, refill them and sell them? It’s going to be tricky. I think it will take some time and training,” Barbour said.

Nu Brew has licensing agreements to sell its beer to the city’s restaurants and bars. The company plans to pick up the empties once a week from these locations, in order to keep the bottles in circulation.

The brewery also purchased a canning machine and will eventually sell canned beer through the beer and wine store for people to bring home. They also have plans for recycling that aluminum in Iqaluit.

Barbour said she was approached by Nunavut’s finance department and was told the liquor licensing board wanted to work with the company on this.

“They are looking to start some sort of recycling program and we have totally bellied up and said we want to play,” she said.

“The more people who are united on this front the better it will be for everyone.”

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(10) Comments:

#1. Posted by Double IPA on September 10, 2018

I can’t wait to try this beer.

Would love to know when is Rankin getting the Beer & Wine store we voted overwhelmingly in favour of a year and a half ago?

#2. Posted by No Waste on September 10, 2018

Just how many spills do we have that the end waste grain would be used on?  It all sounds good “Spent grain in a giant tub and give it to Qikiqtaaluk Environmental Inc. to help treat contaminated soil.. that is about 136,800 kilograms of spent grain that should avoid the landfill”

In the long run the grain will end up in a landfill but now full of chemicals which will be worse than just grain.  But good for NU Brew as they pass the waste issue on to some one else.

Maybe a better plan would be for incineration and steam power heat reclamation with a proper ventilation scrubber to filter the exhaust.

#3. Posted by iWonder on September 10, 2018

#2 What chemicals” specifically are you concerned about?

#4. Posted by Northern Guy on September 10, 2018

#2 do you know how many contaminated sites there are in Nunavut? If they can use these by-products in the remediation of these sites, the resulting waste would be shipped out of the territory and never see a landfill. If feasible this is a good use of this by-product that doesn’t require the expenditure of expensive incinerators or waste to energy conversion systems

#5. Posted by recycle ideas from others on September 11, 2018

many brewers have and are using their spent grain in different ways.  Much of the spent grains are used to feed or supplement farm animals.  We don’t have chickens but we have lots of dogs…maybe the grain could be created into pellets and used for this kind of feed or doggie treat.

pellets would make good fire logs as well.

google the subject there are lots of users who recycle their grains.

#6. Posted by Language Laws? What Language Laws? on September 11, 2018

That is all fine and good and admirable but where is the Inuktitut?! Its as though the Language Law that came into effect over a YEAR ago doesn’t exist. Some sylabics on your taps isn’t enough.
And regardless of the LAWS you have missed a real marketing opportunity with your branding.

#7. Posted by Giles on September 11, 2018

#6 What marketing opportunity are you talking about? Show me one individual on the planet who will not buy/drink this beer because it doesn’t have an Inuktitut name? Stop mixing stuff, this is a commercial business not a government policy!

#8. Posted by Language Laws? What Language Laws? on September 12, 2018

#7
OK Dum dum, heres a little excerpt for you, from 2017:

As of July 9, all private businesses and government offices across Nunavut must offer services and communication in either Inuktitut or Inuinnaqtun, unless they operate across the territory, in which case they must offer services in both languages.

The law includes public signs, posters, advertising, invoices, and estimates, as well as customer and reception services.

Also, the beers are consumables, how about shirts, hats, etc with the branding? You know who wants those things with syllabics and the town name on them? Visitors, as well as people buying them for family and friends.

I am not against the brewery by any means, I think its great and look forward to enjoying pints there. I just think it could have been more inclusive. And made a few coins selling swag.

#9. Posted by Go check it out on September 12, 2018

Their logo includes syllabic and it is included on a lot of their swag. They have some Inuit ownership, maybe 51%? Let’s build up people and companies rather than tear them down in a territory that needs economic development. This isn’t a quarry in caribou calving grounds, it’s a brewery in an industrial part of town. We had one of the rainiest summers in 15 years. Not worried about the water this year. Hopefully they can use another source in coming years. Wish them the best. As for alcohol consumption, prohibition does not work. We need to grow up as a society and make good choices as adults. And finally, if you have issues, go and speak to them! I’m pretty sure they are interested in ideas from the community and will respond to feedback. Haven’t tried but that’s my guess. Cheers.

#10. Posted by Language Laws? What Language Laws? on September 12, 2018

#9
I went to their website and I see that the Inuktitut has been added to the logo, glad to see its there now, it wasn’t included in the first version they had advertised. And if that is on their swag then that is great too, I hope it sells well.

However one line of Inuktitut in their logo is hardly a blip on the Language Law radar.

I want the brewery to do well and I support independent businesses in Iqaluit and I will support them, but maybe they need to consider where they are and who their customers are. If they were truly a NUNAVUT brewery this would have been a consideration already.

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