Researchers brew sustainable beer from surplus sushi rice

Researchers brew sustainable beer from surplus sushi rice
Courtesy of the National Food Institute at Technical University of Denmark

Researchers at the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark have brewed a sustainable beer from surplus sushi rice.

The draught beer is now a fixture on the menu at Sticks’n’Sushi in Lyngby made from the restaurant chain’s surplus sushi rice.

When Sticks’n’Sushi cook up large batches of rice for use in their products, not all of it gets used.

While surplus rice can be turned into biogas or used as animal feed, the restaurant chain has sought help from the National Food Institute to investigate ways of recycling the rice in a beer specially developed for their guests.

While barley is the main ingredient in Danish beer, there is already a range of—mainly Asian—beers made from rice available on the international market. So, while brewing a beer based on rice is not a novel idea, the notion of using surplus rice is.

Since September 2018, German master student Marlin Kersting has carried out research at DTU together with the spinout company Science Brew to develop a recipe for a beer that contains as much surplus rice as possible.

His research has also helped to identify the other ingredients needed to give the beer the best flavour.

Brewing beer with large quantities of rice has proved to be a challenge, as the starchy ingredient tends to block the filters in a way that a grain-based mash does not.

However, Science Brew Director and brewer Preben Bøje Hansen has come up with an idea to avoid these blockages when brewing the sustainable beer.

Science Brew has already put the recycled rice beer into production and supplies it to Sticks’n’Sushi, and it is being served as draught beer to customers at the Lyngby restaurant.

Selling the beer—called Gohan Biiru, meaning rice beer—mainly as draught beer makes it even more sustainable.

While Marlin Kersting has been successful in brewing 10-litre batches using almost solely surplus rice, water and a small amount of malt, Science Brew has been able to translate this into a workable recipe when brewing the beer on a much larger scale.

At the moment, Gohan Biiru contains approximately 20% excess cooked rice, but Preben Bøje Hansen expects to be able to increase the rice content.

Ultimately, Sticks’n’Sushi hopes to be able to offer Gohan Biiru to guests in all its restaurants.