'Spent Grain Rule' could boost beer prices
by Keely Chalmers, KGW Staff
Posted on April 15, 2014 at 5:51 AM
Updated yesterday at 10:26 AM
PORTLAND – Newly proposed rules for brewers could mean a waste of grain and more expensive beer prices, according to industry leaders and Oregon Senator Ron Wyden.
Oregon brewers are fighting a proposal by the Food and Drug Administration that would place restrictions on the historic practice of using spent grain as animal feed.
It’s a practice Hopworks Urban Brewery has followed, giving all of its spent grains to a local dairy farmer. That farmer then uses the grains to feed its cows.
Spent grains are all the left-overs after the beer has been brewed. The long-standing practice saves farmers money on feed and brewers millions of dollars in disposal fees. But in an effort to insure the byproduct is safe for animals to eat, the FDA wants to require brewers to dry the wet grains before giving them away.
“It’s an enormous burden that either we carry or pass it along to the farmer, and what’s going to result is higher prices for dairy, for meat and definitely higher prices for beer,” said Christian Ettinger, brewmaster at Hopworks.
Most of the smaller brewers said they'd be forced to dump the leftover grains in the landfill. Senator Wyden on Monday met with some local brewers and farmers to discuss the proposed change.
He is asking the FDA to throw out their current proposal and come up with a much more "workable" option.
“I don’t know everything about beer, but I do know when a federal agency acts like it has had one too many,” said Wyden.
In recent hearings, Wyden said the FDA has acknowledged problems with their proposed rule and seemed willing to reconsider it.