|The original version of this figure was prepared|
by Robert A. Rohde from publicly available data,
and is incorporated into the
Global Warming Art project.
I first walked on a glacier in 1981, at the age of 16. I wouldn't expect the reader to understand how much enjoyment that brought me, or the many subsequent occasions since; It is one of those things that floats my boat very high and well above any spiritual plimsoll mark that I can emote in words. It is therefore a great worry that in my lifetime I have visibly seen the effects of climate change on the retreat of glaciers. It is happening, how much it is natural, and how much by man-made effect even the scientists find difficult to quantify.
|Glacier d'Argentiere - Chamonix Valley, France|
The yeast, due to it's metabolism, generates heat as it ferments. This heat needs to be removed else the beer will overheat and nasty favours will result as the yeast gets stressed. It requires some energy, one way or another, to remove this heat. In general, despite me investigating ways to recover this heat for reuse, it is classed as "low grade" heat and not really re-usable.
We then chill the beer for packaging, and hold it at as low a temperature as possible for a while to improve the clarity and mature the beer. This takes energy and despite insulated tanks, without maintaining constant cooling, the beer would warm up again and risk being spoilt.
Our energy bill is too high. I expect most breweries worry about their energy bill. Due to our size I expect our energy bill is higher per litre brewed than many bigger breweries. Bigger tanks lose less heat per unit volume than smaller ones, for the same grade of insulation. Bigger breweries can more efficiently recover heat put into the process.
High energy bills also reflect back on CO2 emissions. There are other ways of doing it where the electricity supplier is paid to only supply green electricity. If you don't understand this, then ask Stringers, they know the deal, and buy into it whole heartedly1. I get it, and think it is a great idea, except for the slight problem that it puts up overheads because the energy costs more. I'm not convinced that the
vast majority of beer drinkers are grateful enough to pay more for the beer, although I'd like to think I'm wrong on that.
I'm interested in reducing the cost of our energy, and think it is the best way for us to improve our impact on the environment. By reducing costs we can plough back the savings into new and better equipment, upscale a little and so reduce our losses per litre. This will also improve our efficiency still further and so enable us to start to look at incorporating true renewable energy solutions that are cost neutral into our process. We have already been looking at Anaerobic Digestion, and I have a feasibility study on my desk, done for us by a student at Lancaster University, showing that with a bit of ingenuity, if partnering with an agricultural site it is possible to supplement heating with biogas.
I have a concept for a custom built brewery that is sited somewhere in Cumbria that makes use of any available renewable energy. Generally to make it work such a site would need to have the space necessary. Be it anaerobic digestion of our waste, coupled with farm waste, or be it biomass boilers, solar panels or wind turbines I don't really know. In any case, it might well be a dream too far as these things are well outside the financial resources we currently have.
But there it is, my dream, my real goal. This is one of the many things I'd like to do with Hardknott. I could keep it a secret, and hope that someone else doesn't realise this eventual dream before me, but they probably will beat me to it, and when they do, at least you know that I, along with other brewers I expect, had the dream.
1I am hopeful that the reader sees my mention of Stringers here as an endorsement of their ethos, rather than negative comment. They clearly are intent on doing what they believe is right. Their renewable credentials are important and I'm rather pleased to see their website now shows a somewhat more overt display of this important selling point.