Picture: Mark Hazell, co-founder and brewer at Jaw Brew.
To some, it’s the perfect end to a stressful workday or the ideal treat to pair with your comfort food on cheat days. For others, like Glasgow-based brewery Jaw Brew, it’s a statement against food waste. We are talking about beer.
Founded in 2014 by Alison and Mark Hazell, Jaw Brew is one of the few craft micro-breweries in Scotland. Since its early days, this family-run bakery stood out from the competition for its commitment to top-quality beer and its fight against ‘the proliferation of mass-produced blandness‘.
It was in 2016 though that Jaw Brew took a leap of faith–and a pretty daring one, which seems to have paid off pretty well. Two years ago, Mark and Alison decided to go the extra mile and take a further step towards tackling waste and being a sustainable business. They partnered up with Aulds the Bakers and, through initial support received by Zero Waste Scotland (backed by Scottish Government and European Regional Development Funding), they developed a new beer made from spent grain from unsold morning bread rolls, in place of malt. After some initial trial and error, the result was a low-alcohol, full-flavour beer called Hardtack.
The name, as explains Mr Hazell when we meet him at Jaw Brew’s headquarters in Hillington West, Glasgow, “comes from the bread served as ration to the sailors on Royal Navy ships in ancient days. There is a nautical naming theme that is common to all our beers.”
By launching Hardtack, Jaw Brew’s aim was to develop a tasty beer through employing resources already in use and still good to eat, but bound to be wasted. The final product, Hardtack, came to life in late 2016, after a six-month trial period where the Hazells and their partners experimented with different hops and combinations until they found the perfect recipe.
Each batch uses 28kg of waste bread rolls, replacing 50-65kg of malted grains.
Since its launch, Hardtack moved from strength to strength, gaining national recognition by being awarded a series of prizes–from bronze medal in Scotland’s SIBA regional awards in 2017 to a Commendation at the Vibes Awards, becoming the first brewery ever featured in the event. In 2018, it also received the Scottish Environment Business award in recognition of its commitment to tackling waste and adopting a circular economy business model.
More than bread
Not only Hardtack follows the Circular Economy model and is made through available–but unutilised–resources. Jaw Brew are taking a step forward and are also trying to reduce their environmental footprint and limit the waste deriving from the beer production process.
Says Mr Hazell: “The spent grains that result from the mash are currently diverted to a local farm as cattle feed. We are also looking at further ways to recover the heat via a heat exchanger, with the hot water retained in an insulated tank for the next brew.”
Jaw Brew is also currently working on other uses of this spent grain, including the creation of snack bars.
Says Hazell: “We have done some research and, through our collaboration with a local artisan baker, we have developed some snack bar-like comestibles–both vegan and non-vegan–that we’ve brought to our local gym. The response was overwhelming: we believe there is a market out there for this kind of local, healthy and sustainable products that could appeal to a certain target audience–for example, sports people.”
In addition, Jaw Brew is also mindful about packaging waste–which they are trying to eliminate. Among others, one of the measures adopted to date has been to develop an environmentally-friendly packaging made from prawn shells, which allows the beer to be safely stored while causing no harm to the environment.
Says Hazell: “In Scotland, there is a huge surplus of prawn shells resulting from the seafood industry. We are looking to utilise these leftover shells to create a sustainable and harmless can connector, which will not harm our sea life but which instead will become part of the food chain.”
The Circular Economy model
The fund aims to help small to medium-sized businesses and organisations in Scotland to develop innovative technologies, business models and infrastructure. It will also offer development support to businesses seeking to redesign their processes and products, and implement resource efficiency measures.
Ylva Haglund, Food Waste Campaigns Manager at Zero Waste Scotland, says: “Zero Waste Scotland supports pioneering ideas and initiatives in Scotland around sustainability and circularity. Through our Circular Economy Implementation Fund, we’ve helped businesses like Jaw Brew to develop their projects.”
Watch Tech-licious’ interview with Mark Hazell (Jaw Brew) and Ylva Hoglund (Zero Waste Scotland).