Spendrups is the largest brewery in Sweden, and like pretty much every other brewery in the world, it produces plenty of waste in the form of spent grains—the refuse left over from the crushed malted barley used in the brewing process.
Unlike other breweries, though, Spendrups has come up with a novel use for those spent grains: as the basis for a pizza crust. And now, an award-winning pizza parlour in Stockholm called 800° is teaming up with Norrlands Guld Ljus Organic, one of Spendrups' beer brands, to produce a pizza.
Here's the even more surprising thing: because it's made from leftover beer, the beer-grain pizza crust is lower in sugar, has more fibre, and is higher in protein that the average pizza. Dubbed the Chiara Organica, the newfangled pizza will be served at 800° in Stockholm from June 16–22 and will also be available at the Way Out West and Popaganda music festivals later this summer.
Pizza and beer is a great match, but pizza that is beer, in and of its essence? Well, that's sort of genius. We reached out to Eddi Törnberg, the Head of Dough (yup, best job title ever) at 800°, and Stefan Santos, a marketing manager at Spendups, and asked them about their new joint venture.
MUNCHIES: Hi, Eddi. How did the idea for Chiara Organica come about?
Eddi Törnberg: The idea basically came from a need to offer good food that would go along with the beer being served at the music festival Way Out West. We took it one step further and made food out of that beer instead. Beer and bread are pretty close relatives on the food family tree, so it felt like a great match.
What are the biggest challenges with making pizza dough from spent grains?
Törnberg: The grain is pretty coarse, so the challenge is to not ruin the gluten and to get a dough that's as simple to bake as our regular dough. The spent grain is also wet from the brewing process, meaning it contains quite a lot of water, which took a few tries to compensate [for]. But it worked.
I noticed you are using the spent grains from an alcohol-free beer. Is there any reason for that?
Stefan Santos: The spent grains from Norrlands Guld Ljus Non-alcoholic and the one with alcohol are the same; the alcohol is reduced in a later part of the brewing process. In this case, though, we wanted to make clear the pizza doesn't contain any alcohol since the laws regulating alcohol consumption aren't as liberal in Sweden as they are in other countries.
Have you ever tried to undertake a project similar to this in the past?
Santos: This is the first time we've made anything related to food using spent grains, but we hope to keep on this circular approach to beer waste in the future.
How does the taste of Chiara Organica differ from the pizzas normally served at 800°?
Törnberg: There really isn't that big of a difference. I guess you could say that it tastes more whole grain-y, if you know what I mean.
Can you tell us a bit about your plan to possibly offer spent grains to pizzerias in the future?
Santos: Being the largest beer producer in Sweden means a lot of beer waste and spent grains. In our everyday business we already reuse the spent grains as bio fuel, which goes straight back into powering the brewery, making it close to self-sufficient on energy. But the possibilities are far wider, and we wish to keep exploring innovative ways to reuse our spent grains. As for now the project with 800° and the music festivals is our plan, but we're hoping more pizzerias want to join in after this hopefully becomes a success. We're looking into the possibility for pizzerias to order spent grain directly from our brewery in the near future. We just have to make sure the infrastructure is there to support it.
Thanks for speaking with us, Eddi and Stefan.