Environmental Benefits of the Mash Filter
We use a Belgian-made hammer mill and mash filter system (see “science” for a full description on how these work). These two components were integrated into a Wisconsin-built brewhouse to create a brewing system that is radically different from anything seen in D.C. to date. Although these systems have been used in Belgium and other parts of Europe for over a century, ours is the first craft brewing system of it’s kind on the Atlantic Coast. The mash filter system is highly efficient, requiring 15% less grain and 30% less water per batch than a traditional brewing system while reducing brew times by 20% and conserving energy as well.
Grain to Feed/Compost Program with American University
We have partnered with the American University Office of Sustainability to identify local farmers to take our spent grain to use as livestock feed and compost. The spent grain is a great addition to the animals’ diet and some farmers have come to call grain pick-up day “Cow Happy Hour” since they love it so much. Brewers have been partnering with local farmers for centuries to return our spent grains back to the farmland it came from and we are happy to continue this proud tradition. Even as a small microbrewery this keeps thousands of pounds of waste from being dumped every week in D.C.’s landfills. We will continue to work with American University to identify sustainability options for all aspects of our brewery.
Hop Farm in Upstate New York
In 2010, Ben, his dad and a few friends planted a (very) small hop field in Upstate New York. There are currently 15 varieties of hops growing on about one acre of land that will eventually be used to seed an area several times this size. Hellbender plans to use these hops for one-off beers shortly after each annual Fall harvest.
New York State produced the majority of U.S. hops prior to prohibition and has the ideal soil and climate for these plants. However, both Prohibition and hop disease killed off the industry before it re-emerged in the Pacific Northwest. There are still some hops from the pre-prohibition era growing “feral” in parts of NY, and we have found and transplanted some of these hops to our small plot of land. The farmers whose land they were taken from told us that they had been growing for generations, and we are excited to brew small batches with them every year when they’re ready to harvest.