Useful Waste: Pieke Brood Bier

In 2020 worldnews was dominated by corona and its effects on society. The beer world was hit hard with bars and brewpubs closing in large parts of the world for a long time.

But there is a darker cloud that hangs over everything: our rapidly warming earth. A lot of things that we humans do are destroying the earth: gas powered cars, flying all over when a train will do, eating too much meat, cutting down forests… I can go on for a while. If the rest of the world would live like we do here in the West, we would need three earths worth of resources.

The beer world is trying to do their part by becoming more sustainable. Solar energy on the brewery, energy sufficient equipment, better produced ingredients and distribution with electric trucks are just a few examples. The grain left over after mashing often goes to animals who will eat the still very nutritious stuff. Sometimes bakers bake bread with the grain. Anything better then throwing it away in the trash.

In the Netherlands some breweries have started interesting projects to become more sustainable. Projects that deserve more attention. Attention I want to give them in a series about people in the Dutch beer world trying to do their part. In episode 1: Pieke Brood Bier. I spoke to founder Laura Nieboer about this interesting concept.

Who are they?

Pieke Brood Bier (Pieke Bread Beer) is part of the start-up Innowastion, a company trying to ‘give waste value’. Innowastion was started by Laura Nieboer after graduating from Maastricht University. Maastricht is where they are also based. It is now a three woman team with the addition of Karlijn and Joanna.

Waste Beer?

So how do they do fight waste with beer? Laura:

“It all started early 2018 when I realized how much bread we throw away in the Netherlands. We throw away around 12 whole loaves of bread per person per year. Knowing that so many people worldwide struggle to get (good) food I felt shocked by this statistic. As bread has a short shelf life due to its high water content, there are not many things you can do with bread. I wanted to show people the potential of food ‘waste’ beyond the obvious, such as making croutons or breadcrumbs out of it. Somehow, I made the connection between bread and beer, which was the start of the Pieke Broodbier adventure.“

“A friend and the internet taught me how to brew beer at home. After testing many batches, we finally had a nice beer. Taking a bit of a risk I decided it was time to brew it commercially at a local brewery here in Maastricht. We started with a batch of 300 litres, but soon due to its almost immediate success, we scaled up to 600 litres and later to the 1000 litres batches that we currently run.“

2020 saw the release of two batches of 1000 liter. They plan to brew at least that much in 2021 with maybe one batch more. If the bars can open again soon there is more chance of this.

Bread

Whenever they brew, at nearby Fontein brewery, they collect bread that would otherwise have been thrown away. Because of the many types of bread that they pick up every batch of Pieke Brood bier is slightly different every time. But this is something they know is part of the experience and adds a little extra. The beer as it is currently can best be described as a blonde beer or a golden ale.

Where to get it

For now Pieke Broodbier is for sale in some local (Maastricht) shops, bars and restaurants. They also supply three local markets every week. These markets are a good way to have direct contact with fans and customers: “An observation I can share from interacting with people at markets is that especially older males think our beer is not dark enough for their taste haha. They generally ask us why we brew an ale and not something stronger. Overall, the reactions we get are positive especially if people realise the positive impact they are making by buying and drinking Pieke Broodbier. “

Future

Development continues on new beers and drinks. They are this year working on a new types of beers, often in collaboration with other parties. So who knows , this year we might see a new Piekebrood beer.

But Innowastion won’t focus on beer alone. The plan is to introduce new drinks made with waste this year. This has led to a name change. It is now Pieke Drinks, Pieke Broodbier will remain the name of the beer. So keep checking their social media channels for more.

She is not far enough yet to have Innowastion be a fulltime job. When it was founded she was still working on her masters, which she got at the end of 2020. Innowastion has not attracted investors or government help yet. They did win a Maastricht Student Entrepreneur Award in 2018 and got help from a business coach to set things up. But for now it is all own money. The profit from the first batch financed the second and so Pieke Brood Bier can be made.

The dream is that in the coming years Innowastion can be full-time activity. But as with many startups, the finance will have to come first.

So whenever you are in Maastricht seek out this wonderful initiative. We all need to do our part to combat the climate crisis, and why not enjoy a beer in the process?

Links:

Innowastion Website.

Piekedrinks.

Pieke BroodBier on Facebook.

And on Instagram.

One Love?

Racism in the craft beer community is real. Like in the rest of the world it should be confronted whenever it is seen and called out for what it is. We do not tolerate racism in any form and want to play our part in confronting it and making the beer a place where everyone is welcome. It’s time to listen, learn and change. One Love.

Nice sentiment in these troubled times isn’t? This is a statement from Oedipus released on their Facebook page on June 8th. It is great that people in general and breweries specifically take a stand, something that should happen more in Holland. And racism in the craft beer community is real, just look at the brewers who still stand behind the outdated tradition of Zwarte Piet.

However that this statement is coming from Oedipus is surprising to say the least. Last year Oedipus announced that they were partnering with Heineken. Heineken’s track record on racial matters, especially in Africa, is one of contempt for human rights for decades.

Some examples, taken from Olivier van Beemen’s excellent Heineken in Africa:

During the genocide in Rwanda Heineken did not stop brewing. In fact its business went quite well. Many of the participating in the ethnic slaughter were drinking beer from Heineken

When the white South African installed apartheid in the early 60’s some international companies left but Shell and Heineken stayed. There was backlash against both throughout the decades. Shell had to deal boycotts and slashed hoses at gasstations. But Shell and Heineken could make more there then it lost so it stayed. In fact it was urged to senior people within the company “not to act in opposition to the letter/spirit of Apartheid”. 

In the decade when many African countries gained their independence Heineken used the chaos and lack of government oversight to funnel their profit to banks in Switzerland, thereby paying hardly any tax. They also wrote the alcohol tax code in some instances.

In Cambodia girls were used to promote the beer, something that turned into indirect prostitution. They were harassed, forced into having sex with customers just to sell beer. This has also happened in Africa. Time and time again Heineken vowed to do something about it and some steps were made but the problem existed. Research was done, by an intern no less. Parliament tried to force Heineken to stop doing this, Dutch bank ASN pulled it from their investment funds and Bill Gates stopped working with Heineken in Africa.

In 2018 it was still going on. Can you imagine this happening in Europe and with white beer promotion girls?

I am ok with a company making a business decision to join forces with a multination like Oedipus has done with Heineken. But in doing so you are also saying you are fine with their business practices. If you were not you should find another, better suited partner to do business with. Much of Heineken’s dealings in Africa stem from a deeprooted racism since the time they started there.  Or as someone in Heineken said “the negro stands, no matter how you think about it, on a much lower step on the cultural ladder than the Javanese”. Attitudes have changed somewhat since this was said in the 1950s but Heineken has kept doing its business in more than dirty ways, as their dealings in Rwanda and South-Africa have shown. And Oedipus, you didn’t really help the world become a better place when you combined with Heineken. Did you confront Heineken or was the bag of Euros mightier?

If you want to read more about Heineken in Africa read Olivier van Beemen’s excellent book, or start with his equally excellent piece in The Guardian.