Wasted beer that should have been heading to pubs is turned into green energy by Heineken's Manchester brewery

Heineken Brewery, Manchester

Today marks a year since the Prime Minister announced pubs must close and they remain shut now, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It has had a massive impact on people’s livelihoods with jobs lost and pubs uncertain if they can reopen.

It also means tens of millions of pints of beer destined to be drank at pubs across the country have gone down the drain, but Heineken brewery in Manchester have managed to find a way to turn the wasted beer into green energy. 

The British Beer and Pub Association predict around 87 million pints will have been thrown away as a result of pub closures during the Covid-19 lockdowns around the UK  - the equivalent to £331 million worth of beer.

Heineken is part of the Brewing A Better World sustainability strategy and for the first time the machine that fills beer kegs destined for pubs has been put into reverse – it’s being used to empty thousands of kegs instead. This beer is then turned into green energy - and using it to power the brewing kettles and canning pasteurisers.

Since May 2020 the brewery has processed 83,210 fifty litre kegs, that's enough power to heat nearly 28,000 average UK homes for a day. 

So, how does it work?

  • Having found a way to reverse the kegging line, the next stage is about an a powerful piece of kit that's called a combined heat and power unit. It converts the biogas into heat and electricity.  

  • The thousands of full kegs are emptied and the beer is stored in empty brewing vessels before being drip-fed into the site’s waste water treatment plant.  

  • It’s then put into the anaerobic digester at the waste water treatment plant which converts the alcohol in the beer into biogas.

  • The biogas, which is 100% sustainable and renewable, is then used to supplement the energy the site needs to brew beer and pasteurise and cans.