In a recent survey, 75% of Americans said they would happily pay more for beer made using environmentally sustainable practices. They are not alone in their desire for beer with a lower carbon footprint. According to further research, 39% of beer drinkers from multiple countries said that they prefer locally sourced beverages.
But it isn’t just consumers who are becoming more committed than ever to tackling climate change; so too are brewers. Many of our industry’s biggest names have of course now made firm sustainability commitments in the recent past, all aimed at achieving positive and lasting change for the future.
The challenge faced by brewers now? Meeting these sustainability goals as efficiently as possible – and all without compromising the sensory qualities of the beers their customers love. Historically, brewing has been a resource-intensive industry using large amounts of energy, water and raw materials. But one proven solution that can help achieve these goals, is enzymes.
In fact, the latest enzyme technology from DSM not only creates production efficiencies for manufacturers while lowering their carbon footprint; it also enables the use of more locally sourced ingredients – which further reduces the footprint of beer while appealing to responsible consumers.
Sustainability and efficiency: hand-in-hand
Enzymes are biological catalysts normally used in small amounts and added in their liquid state at different stages of food and beverage production to perform diverse tasks. In brewing, DSM created a unique enzyme (known as a liquid fungal proline-specific endo-protease) called Brewers Clarex®. Simply added at the start of the fermentation process, and with no special equipment needed, it prevents the chill haze formed when haze-sensitive proteins attach to polyphenols in hops.
In a traditional stabilization process, silica gel is needed to remove these proteins; while PVPP powder removes the polyphenols; and a deep cooling and rinsing step removes the protein-polyphenol complexes. Brewers Clarex® simplifies this process by cutting the protein at the proline site. Polyphenols still attach to the protein fragments, but never become large enough to form colloidal beer haze.
Hence, brewers are able to skip the deep cooling and rinsing step in the beer stabilization and clarification process, with reduced maturation time. Good for profit, but also great for the planet. With this simple change, brewers can cut their carbon footprint by 5-6%, and achieve energy cost savings up to €70,000 per one million hectoliters of beer produced. They can also reduce the amount of water used in the brewing process by 1%. This is significant when you consider that one 250ml glass of beer requires an average of 74 liters of water to produce.
However, this is by no means the only way that enzymes can help brewers to become more sustainable.
Moving to adjunct brewing
Enzymes can also give brewers greater flexibility in using locally sourced raw materials – via adjunct brewing. This involves switching from malted to un-malted brewing grains, which in turn allow brewers to use 100% barley instead of imported grains. The enzymes in another DSM solution called Brewers Compass®, for instance, simply replace what is usually produced by malting (note that enzymes are needed to complement the enzymes naturally found in barley, namely ẞ-amylases and exo-peptidases).
Not only does adjunct brewing allow for more sustainably sourced, 100% barley recipes; it also reduces the amount of water and energy needed by removing the need to malt the barley. Malting is an extremely water and energy-intensive process, accounting for 10-15% of the carbon footprint of beer. In fact, brewing with 100% un-malted barley can result in carbon footprint savings of more than 60 kilograms of CO2 per ton of barley.
Once again, we see how sustainability and production efficiency goes hand-in-hand. In fact, leading adjunct brewing enzymes can help increase brewing capacity by up to 25%, while reducing mash cycle time by up to 20%.
Complementary to the mashing enzymes, are the enzymes found in DSM’s Filtrase® range – including Filtrase® NL Fast and the recently developed Filtrase® SMART. These enzymes reduce the viscosity of wort and beer produced with challenging raw materials. In addition, they enable optimal starch liberation and improved brewhouse yields. Once again, the result is a dual efficiency-sustainability benefits. These enzymes help increase filtration run lengths and brewery capacity; while reducing the number of cleaning cycles, along with energy and water consumption. Great solutions that can boost your sustainability targets!
The bottom line
If all the beer in Europe was made with Brewers Clarex®, the energy saved (327 KWH) would equal €30 million in cost savings and 52,000 fewer cars on the road for one year.
If all beer production in the United States switched to adjunct brewing processes, 753 million kilograms of CO2 could be saved – which equates to taking 161 million cars off the road.
Furthermore, this can all be achieved without compromising the taste or texture of the beers that people enjoy every day. After performing their function, they are no longer active in the finished beverage – which is vital for the 22% of consumers who value flavor above all else. They can now enjoy it all, and so too can manufacturers.
For more information on how brewing enzymes can support a more sustainable future while meeting the needs of both consumers and brewers, visit our web site at
Brewing | DSM Food & Beverage.
1 https://ag.purdue.edu/commercialag/home/paer-article/marketing-sustainable-beer/ (Accessed February 2022)
2 DSM, Brewing Consumer Insights Report
(Accessed February 2022)