When the pandemic arrived, millions of bars, restaurants, and stadia were forced to shutter, rising the question, “What will become of the beer going stale at these closed venues?” In Ireland, Guinness is testing one solution. The legendary brewer is using skunked Guinness to fertilize Christmas trees.
Aidan Crowe, the director of operations at Guinness’ famed St. James Gate brewery told the Press Association that the company is testing all potential options to provide relief to affected industries.
“It’s been a tough time in the brewery but it’s been a much tougher time if you’re trying to run on-trade outlets in this part of the world,” Crowe said.
“That’s why it was very, very important right from the start of the lockdown to support the on-trade as much as we could. That’s why we took the decision to bring back all of the beer from the on-trade.”
Crowe explained that the spoiled brew is being used for a variety of applications such as compost—and, yes, fertilizer.
“Basically what we do is we take all the keg beer back and we decant it and we disperse the product through a number of environmentally sustainable routes. The vast majority of the beer goes to willow and Christmas tree plantations, it’s used as nutrients in those farms,” he explained in the interview. “We’ve also diverted some product through to anaerobic digesters, where it produces a bio-gas. Actually, we’re quite optimistic that, in the long term, that bio-gas can be a suitable fuel source for us to use here in the brewery.”
During the pandemic, St. James Brewery reduced their production to the lowest levels possible without damaging their yeast stock; the last time that Guinness implemented such a severe maneuver was during the 1916 Easter Rebellion.