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brewery mash business case

 
Posts: 14
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Hello, I am interested in getting input from those people who have not only fed mash, but those who truck it themselves.

I fetched mash for 5 years. Started out once per week, at the end it was almost daily as the brewery grew. I have a lot of pigs in the forest. Fed a little to cattle and chickens, but mostly pigs, mixed with corn for the sugar.  I found a dairy farmer to take over, he did it for two years and gave up.

firstly, locally, the understanding from the breweries point of view is that farmers will pick it up for free. Frankly it is work. Once a week is a hobby, but daily, is just plain work. Time off the farm costs.

The feed, from all my research in Morrisons's Feed and Feeding, is of poor quality. I like to work from the price of barley. Barley, locally, is about $3 to 6 per bushel, or about $300 per ton. Dry, full nutrient barley is cheap. Sugar removed and wet barley is, to my best guess, worth about a 1/4 of that. I know, I could do all sorts of soldier fly breeding and improve it for the chickens, but I am not going to.  

Anyone who has actually done it for any length of time, probably does not know their cost of production in fetching and feeding it. A common problem with farmers, me included.

The breweries are begging me to take it for free because they know I am reliable and will do it all winter, in all weather, oh ya, and don't take vacations.

With this in mind, I want to charge for fetching/taking it. I am interested in what others charge.

PS, there is also the burgeoning problem of the wort. Many sewer departments in the cities are forbidding the breweries from pouring it down the drain. They are paying about a dollar a gallon to have it hauled away. I have taken it on occasion, it is of no feed value and thus have charged what the big disposal companies charge. I just dump it on my pasture, if not too much, the grass likes it, if too much, it kills it.

Would love your input, but remind you, would rather hear from those who have actually done it for an extended period of time.

thanks so much in advance, george
 
pollinator
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I would charge at the same $1/gallon.

How much time does the process take for you?
Cost = (Equipment/UHaul Cost + Employee Cost ) X Overhead
Cost = ($1/mile * miles + $30/hr * hours ) * 1.5
Cost = ($1*30 + $30*2) * 1.5
Cost = (30 + 60) * 1.5
Cost = 61*1.5
Cost = $92
 
pollinator
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I work in town and would be willing to grab it on lunches without any extra driving around, since they're all downtown. The interesting thing is that not a one of them would give it to me.
 
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elle sagenev wrote:I work in town and would be willing to grab it on lunches without any extra driving around, since they're all downtown. The interesting thing is that not a one of them would give it to me.



I've found a few times that businesses don't want the hassle of dealing with just a person, they want to deal with another business even if it costs them more in the end.

So many places in the waste stream one could pull real value out if one can deal with bureaucracy to get the process rolling.
 
S Bengi
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In my city they can't even give out coffee grounds. They can only give it to someone registered/insured as a solid waste company.
They also cant give away perfectly good donuts/pastry/bread either to homeless, they can only give it to other company/non-profit.
 
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This is a great perspective on what is most likely going to end up a huge problem for the microbrewers that are popping up all over the US.
Thanks for starting this thread George.

Redhawk
 
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It sounds like a lot of work for a nutritionally inferior feed source.

The last time I came across a windfall of spent brewers grain, I was without animals to eat it, so I composted it.

Honestly, the only livestock I would ever feed that stuff to is worms. I did mix it in with my coffee grounds and a fair amount of spent rabbit bedding, but man, I came back a month later, and there was no hint of grain, coffee grounds, or rabbit bedding, and more worms by volume, it seemed, than soil.

With this in mind, I don't think I would bother unless I was upgrading it with Black Soldier Fly Larvae or other insects.

I don't think what you're considering is out of line, as S Bengi has sketched out. But if dealing with you is no different than dealing with a disposal company, financially speaking, they might just choose to dump it, so you can't very well charge on the same scale as waste management.

I suggest you literally cost it out, with gas receipts and everything. And account for your time properly as well. It would be best financially if you had a large-scale upgrading process, even if it was just spent grain in windrows mixed with other worm food that would then draw worms, that you could feed to chickens and pigs, because chances are, the spent grain really isn't worth it if you're trucking it yourself.

-CK
 
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I'd be inclined to work out the cost of hauling it away (like the cost of gas for a round trip pickup) and charge that amount.

Wort contains a lot of fats and proteins that don't easily break down. I can see that being a big problem. However, I have an idea...

The breweries separate this stuff out because it produces undesirable flavors in the finished beer, and interferes with stability of the final product (haze etc). Yeast will actually ferment this stuff out just fine, and it contains a lot of nutrients and sugars. There is a possibility here to take this stuff away at half the cost the city charges, ferment it out, and then distill the ethanol for use as a bio fuel.
 
pollinator
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I'm a little confused about the terminology.  I've home brewed for years and, as I understand it, wort is the liquid that you draw off the mash and boil with hops.  Wort is the liquid with the extracted sugars that you add yeast to to make beer.  I don't understand why any brewery would dump the wort, so what am I missing?

The spent mash, now, is an issue.  Around here, some micros used to get it trucked away wet while others dried it and then charged for it, though not much.  Depending on mash efficiency you'll get anywhere between 15-25% sugars still in the malt, as well as any starches that didn't convert to sugar during the mashing process, so I think it's still a useful feed source.  I like it better than grain for cows as they aren't built for high sugar/starch loads that grain contains, so it can be a useful bribe at milking.  

As for cost/pricing, my inclination would be to tell them you'll take it all, but they have to arrange transportation.  That way, they have all the headaches and you aren't off the farm.  Also, if you quote them a price that's your cost, you'll soon find yourself underwater when shipping costs rise, so if going that route, I'd factor in gas, time, wear and tear, and then add 20% for increasing costs.  They may not like that quote, which is why I'd say have them deliver it.  One other thing to note, though you probably already know this, is that spent mash is just about perfect for bacteria growth, so you'll very quickly have something that challenges a confinement hog operation for smell.  

Walter at Sugar Mountain gets whey, the waste product from cheesemaking, trucked to his farm on the cheesery's dime.  Whey's acidic, so it's not accepted in waste streams here without treating, and you have to be careful of spreading too much on pastures (so I've been told), but it makes a great supplement.  If he's got the time, you might get an answer from a PM to him or check out his blog to see what details he gives.  I think finding out the challenges and opportunities of waste feed from someone like Walter, who's doing it, would be most helpful.
 
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Where I am at most of the breweries have locals picking up however I had them put my name on a list 'just in case' and sure enough I was contacted pretty shortly. I had more feed then i could handle and not having a large truck/trailer it was very inefficient for me time and effort wise. To make it worse the only animals out of chickens/pigs/turkeys/cows that were interested were the COWS haha ironic. I grabbed a few loads and ended up composting 90% of it and letting them know it was not going to work out for me. A new brewery opened up very close to my current location that I might look at trying it again, but they are very small so the volume is low and I would be surprised if they would pay me to haul it away even though they are paying to dispose of it in dumpsters.

More to your post - you could inquire with local waste management companies and get an idea of what folks are paying currently for waste and if that price is something you would be willing to work for you might be able to make some deals? Especially if you have a reputation for reliability?
 
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In my opinion, the product has more value in making biogas than for animal feed. It can produce 75% more biogas then animal manure, so I think composting it, or giving it to animals for feed is one way to get rid of it, but maybe not the BEST way???
 
Chris Kott
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What about pelletisation and drying? It could still be fed to livestock, but could also be burned in a pellet stove. Either way, pelletisation would let you store it longer, and might also make it more palatable to pigs and chooks.

I think that there are some scenarios where generating biogas could be more economically viable than trucking in propane or hooking up to natural gas, where applicable,  but it would never be my first choice when talking about feedstock that can literally feed stock. Nor would pelletisation and burning, for that matter.

So maybe rendering it shelf-stable would be a good idea.

-CK
 
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My friends at Carriage House Farm accepted spent grain from a local brewery called Mad Tree.
They've composted  the waste on their fields, improving the soil.
Recently they gave formed a new partnership with the brewery.
In a venture known as Mad House, they are producing artisnal vinegar from what was formally composted.

I think that this is a higher use for the brewery waste.
Fermenting a it into a small beer, letting that go to vinegar, or distilling it into harder alcohol, or both.
You will still have residue to feed or compost.
Or bio-digest.
This stuff would be good feedstock for a biodigester.
It could mix well with woodchips for compost.

Is it worth the trouble?
Probably not.
I grab autumn leaves for biomass,  I have trucks of woodchips delivered,  but those are on my terms.

 
Travis Johnson
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Chris Kott wrote:What about pelletisation and drying? It could still be fed to livestock, but could also be burned in a pellet stove. Either way, pelletisation would let you store it longer, and might also make it more palatable to pigs and chooks.

I think that there are some scenarios where generating biogas could be more economically viable than trucking in propane or hooking up to natural gas, where applicable,  but it would never be my first choice when talking about feedstock that can literally feed stock. Nor would pelletisation and burning, for that matter.

So maybe rendering it shelf-stable would be a good idea.

-CK



Yeah, you are probably right. I withdraw my suggestion in humility!
 
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George, I have been working with a local brewery hauling and composting their grain for 6+ years now.

It also began small, as a hobby, and I was excited about composting. It was maybe 12-16 five gallon pails per week, for free beer.
The volume grew to 5x the amount over 3.5 years, and composting it all became difficult, especially since I had been doing it all by hand for the first 2.5 years.
After a break due to relocation and expansion, the volume increased by another 50% and I began charging a competitive rate.
I also befriended a dairy/pig farmer who now feeds it to his animals and composts any spoiled/excess. He also covers my vacations.

Schemes for charging vary from by weight to by volume or by trip. One company in the area charges a fee per weight, plus you lease their toters.
Schemes for moving it vary from pails to garbage cans to 55gallon drums, IBCs, pallet bins, forklift hoppers... (I'm very glad to be working with pallet bins, forklift, and tractors with forks all around now, FWIW)
Another brewery nearby has an automated grain-out system that fills a silo over their loading dock that drops directly into a dump truck.
In our state there is an organic waste ban, it can't go into the landfill/incinerator stream, so there's a parallel waste hauling industry (mostly all the same companies) so the expectation that it can get taken away for free is gone (or pretty low).
I've also heard that A-B charges for their spent grain??? but that's a different league altogether.

I charge by the batch which fits in one pallet bin. I have no way to weigh the whole thing, but by sample weights and calculated out (and cross referenced to grain bills), it varies from 700-1100 pounds per batch.
The batch (or trip) method for pricing eliminates the hassle of math, scales, etc... one batch=one fee. This is most often one bin per trip in my truck, but, occasionally, I trailer two bins together, when a double batch is made or two made on consecutive days, but this is still two fees. (I save in time versus two trips, but lose in fuel pulling the trailer, so it's a wash)

You'll have to figure out your own enterprise budget, in your market, with your expenses... You are right that reliability is a big asset.

My brewery's grain has hops mixed in (and sometimes some fruit), as well as the trub (the yeast sediment left behind from a previous beer (the yeast is killed by adding to HOT mash after wort is drawn off) and this avoids the putting it down the drain issue...)
Variations can sometimes throw off the animals appetite for the grain (like a smoked malt, or lots of hops.)





 
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If offsetting the time and transport costs, there is anothet angle to look into.
I currently only split the week with the homie picking up the 5gal or so of coffee from a local place and the other gets it from another shop for backyard projects like hot composting, worm stuff, etc, and have got the go ahead from a restaurant on getting there veggies in the future as I am upgrading my composting infrastructure and have been considering the time and labor element seriously because I have two jobs and two kids and a lot on my plate, so minimizing the time drain I am considering.
We have been locating various sources in the town and its outskirts where materials could be located, such as hundreds of buckets or barrels from the juice plant, spent grain wash, wood chips from the tree places, carting the vegetable matter from restaurants etc and making casual inquiries about what they do with it.  In most cases unfortunately they throw everything away on site or take it to a local dump. One tree place lets anyone take it for free or haul it to local cattle yards which need the chips to lessen the nitrate poisoning of the water, but I know smaller operations that just take wood chips to the dump and actually pay to waste it.
As our operation grows, I intend to first make it known that they can dump suitable material for free at our site, which may be beneficial to them to reduce garbage costs, or post on craiglist and local fb groups that clean yard waste can be dumped at our site. This way there could potentially some matter dropped off without taking up my time.  As for charging, one thing to consider is how important reliability is.  Not picking up for a few days can cause some nasty backup, if its just a couple dudes and someone gets sick it can cause problems for a business, so some may prefer something good and established.  If you have something to show for it, such as a years old composting operation you can assure them you can get the job done right.  So at this point I am not pursuing charging because I don't have the humanpower or organization to handle the quantity or consistently haul the matter, but if and when I get to that point, I would try learn what they pay to get rid of their organic matter and offer the service at a lower cost.  Financial incentives drive a lot of business decisions, so making paying us a better financial decision than using the dumpster can get the attention to those not driven by altruistic principles.  Making environmentally friendly practices financially beneficial can help to change the minds of those in the periphery of industrial agriculture and who otherwise reject sustainability as some liberal-ISIL conspiracy and the environmental benefit is just welcome collateral.
At this point I cannot yet charge, but what I would charge would be metered against what it saves them, not what it costs me.
 
Kenneth Elwell
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Nathan, I would encourage you to figure out how (and how much)to get paid before you begin. It will be difficult to change your agreement after you are committed to providing your service at no cost.

You might try a “trial period” where you have an arrangement (schedule, $$, service provided) for one month that you will review for satisfaction, and improvements, (for both parties) and a time when you could adjust your fee, if necessary, or quit without any hard feelings.

You are on the right track, thinking about how low your expenses might be compared to the value, both perceived and actual, is to your customer... be sure to include everything in your calculations, and figure it out for yourself (don’t blindly copy someone else’s {possibly doomed} business plan)


 
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