When our 30-foot silo arrived, we were all: “Can’t wait to store our grain here!” And when our new mill arrived, we were all: “Can’t wait to grind up our grain here!” And when our three-vessel brewhouse arrived, we were all: “Can’t wait to mash our grain here!”
And then we brewed, and we got all: “What the HELL do we do with all this grain?!”
You see, making beer is a lot like making coffee. Those ground-up beans don’t disappear once you’re mug is full… they remain a sad, wet little clump in your Mr Coffee filter until you toss ‘em. And the malted barley used for beer doesn’t disappear, either. Once it’s done providing color, flavor, sugar and protein, it needs to be dealt with. Considering we’re going through 60,000 pounds of the stuff a month… it can be a bit of a problem.
We considered buying some self-dumping dumpsters. And then we considered buying a gooseneck trailer. And then we considered fencing in the back of the brewery and buying a bunch of pigs to eat the stuff. Hey, desperate times…
But then: Vernon Morin of Hidden Paradise Farms in Upper Township came along.
Vern owns the Morin Laboratories, Inc, for which he grows his own medicinal herbs used to treat everything from anxiety to lymes disease to the flu. In fact, Vern is the only person in the world to “extract herbs in an oral electrolyte concentrate” for the balancing of minerals.
“I discovered this when my daughter was going through chemotherapy,” he says. “We’d get home and have to take her right back to the hospital because her electrolytes were off, and I wanted to give her something more natural than Pedialyte. It’s helped a lot of people since.”
Vern and his wife Amelia also tend to 20 acres where they grow their own food in a biodynamic manner. Meaning? They only use what
comes from the earth. Instead of spraying harsh chemicals, for instance, they plant buckwheat that kills off dangerous weeds, or they use those weeds for fertilizer. If bugs are eating crops, they release up to 400 praying mantis egg cases and wait for these insects to feed on their natural prey.
So where does our spent grain come in?
Vern uses it as compost, as mulch to stamp out poison ivy, and also as a probiotic-rich dietary supplement for his 15 cows and 35 chickens.
“I’ve been watching the animals since they’ve started on it,” he says. “In just a little bit of time, I’ve seen them gaining weight faster and getting healthier.”
And its this kind of sustainable practice that will leave the planet just a bit healthier, too.
“You don’t have to destroy the earth in the process of making money,” Vern says. “This is a critical time… we have to take care of our home. That’s my big thing.”
Another big thing?