Vertical Farming now aiding beer brewing

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By Astwood Group [Vertivore]

For vertical farmers, the question of “what can we do with all of this excess heat from the LED lights?” is a reoccurring question. One firm in the Midlands decided to put their thinking caps on and come up with a solution when posed with that exact dilemma.  

In a bid to take more eco-friendly steps, the firm Astwood Group, formed a business idea that has revolutionized the agricultural sector, making expert use of all of that wasted heat.

Enter Lab Culture. An innovative microbrewery based in the Midlands, UK. An idea born from a team brainstorm at the pub (we recognize the irony), that boasts a range of beers brewed directly from their neighboring vertical farm, Vertivore. 

The literal brains behind the operation, Michael Capewell, Director and Founder of the Astwood Group, tells us all about their vertical farm and how it aids the beer production of Lab Culture: 

Tell us more about the vertical farm, Vertivore? 

Vertivore is a vertical farm which grows plants and produce all year round in a secure chamber with LED lighting and strategic placement within a solid structure. This process provides herbs and salads Summer all-year round without the disadvantages that traditional farming brings, such as unfavorable weather and pesticides. 

What would you say are the benefits of vertical farming? 

Vertical farming makes cultivation possible in areas where the production of traditional vegetables is impossible, and freshwater resources are limited. It is great for improving the quality, production speed and yield of our produce. 

By its very nature, the process conserves natural resources and uses at least 70% less water than soil-based farming but does so with fewer miles to travel from pallet to plate. 

How did Vertivore bring together Lab Culture? 

After the launch of our Vertical Farm, the team realised quickly that the farm was wasting any excess heat from its LED lights. As a company that puts the environment at the heart of what it does, we abhor waste and look to prevent, reduce, reuse or recycle wherever possible.  

We quickly went back to the drawing board to utilise this excess energy. The seed for the Lab Culture Brewery was planted.  

What is the process? 

Firstly, we start the brewing process by simply heating water. This water is pre-heated up to between 35 – 45°C by the wasted heat from Vertivore’s farm.  

We then further heat this to the desired mash temperature for the individual brew (60-80°C), which is then mixed with UK Grown Malts to extract the sugars from the grains. The liquid extracted from the mashing process creates what we refer to as Wort.  

Stage three starts with boiling the Wort by making it inactive to the natural enzymatic activity from the malts. During this stage, we have to sterilize the liquid, so it is fit for consumption and add the hops that provide bitterness, flavour, aroma and natural preserving properties. 

The boiling hot Wort gets cooled down through another heat exchanger on its way to the fermenter. The recovered heat from the boiling water passing through the heat exchanger is used to rapidly raise the temperature of the cold water entering the brewery that can be used in the next brewing cycle and for cleaning in the facility. 

The cold Wort is fermented under controlled temperature conditions with specific yeast strains. Afterwards, the beer is further cooled and conditioned in our Brite tank before being carbonated and packaged. 

Where did the idea for the branding come from? 

The concept behind the branding on the core range is that each beer is an ale-based pun on the names of a different 19th-century scientist, inventor or engineer as our nod to the great pioneers who came before, for example, Gregor Mendel, Galileo Galilei and Alfred Nobel.

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