Water is by far the most abundant ingredient in brewing, by mass or volume, but due to its transportability it poses few logistical issues. In the modern day, pumps and pipes are able to move large amounts of liquid very quickly. This often leaves water out of the waste conversation, but realistically it is a major impact to local treatment systems. Responsible production volume breweries work to pH balance their discharge water, as well as remove solids via a settling tank. As far as smaller outfits, targeting your water usage can save significant money, ensure consistency, and improve efficiency.
When planning a brew, a good estimate for spent grain water retention is 14 fl oz per pound of crushed grist. Multiplying your total grist weight by the water retention factor will allow you to estimate the total water volume that remains in the spent grains. Adding the water retention volume to the intended kettle full volume will give you the total water volume required for the entire brew. The total water volume can then be split between hydration and sparge, based on the desired hydration ratio. Remember, hydration ratio has an impact on enzymatic activity, so factor this in your calculations. Sparging with the appropriate amount will prevent dilution of late runnings and ensure a proper pre-boil gravity.
Cutting out raw material is a direct savings to the bottom line, but as we have stated in the past, these savings must come from somewhere. Often, usable sugar is leaving the brewery as waste and can be salvaged with a bit of extra attention. Take care to audit your current processing and see where you can make improvements!
One class of enzymes might be considered “saccharification enzymes”. These complexes are primarily geared towards hydrolyzing starch and facilitating a conversion of starch into simple forms of sugar. Examples include maltogenic amylases. After expanding long chains of glucose, they are “clipped” into much smaller segments – perfect for fermentation. Another set of enzymes might be classified as “processing enzymes”. These enzymes break down arabinoxylan complexes and glucans in order to decrease viscosity in the mash and improve lautering. Even if lautering is completed without issue, arabinoxylans and glucans can pose further processing issues downstream if filtration is implemented. The best course is preventative action. A combination of these enzyme complexes will increase real extract from raw material by converting previously wasted starch, and by facilitating a thorough rinsing of converted sugar into the brew kettle. From here, the options mentioned earlier can compound your improvements for maximum effect.
Saving money is a primary objective for any large organization, however brewing in a cost-effective way does not have to be self-serving. Using less raw material means more is available for industry partners, and more importantly, it means more beer! Oh, and it can help our planet too. You are already doing the work, start reaping the benefits!