Excess Guinness used as plant feed for Christmas trees

Unsold kegs of Guinness from pubs forced to close due to Covid-19 have been repurposed, with the majority of the excess beer sent to willow and Christmas tree plantations.

As reported by the Press Association, Diageo-owned Guinness has found inventive ways to dispose of excess beer.

Aidan Crowe, the director of operations at the Guinness St James’s Gate brewery, told the PA that the company had made the decision to take back unsold beer in order to support the on-trade.

He estimated that hundreds of thousands of kegs had been returned, with some markets, as of last week, still yet to return their products.

He added: “Basically what we do is we take all the keg beer back and we decant it and we disperse the product through a number of environmentally sustainable routes.

“The vast majority of the beer goes to willow and Christmas tree plantations, it’s used as nutrients in those farms.

“We’ve also diverted some product through to anaerobic digesters, where it produces a bio-gas. Actually, we’re quite optimistic that, in the long term, that bio-gas can be a suitable fuel source for us to use here in the brewery.”

Some of the beer had also been sent for composting.

While production has now been scaled up, output at the St James’s Gate brewery was significantly reduced for three weeks at the end of March and the beginning of April, the first significant brewing downscale since the Easter Rising in 1916. The Dublin-based brewery usually produces around 7.2 million hectolitres per year.

Back in May, the British Beer & Pub Association estimated that as much as 70m pints of beer would be wasted in UK pubs during the lockdown.

Pubs in England are allowed to reopen on 4 July. In Northern Ireland it’s 3 July and on 13 July in Scotland. Wales is opening outdoor venues on 13 July, but will reopen indoor venues at an unspecified later date.

In the Republic of Ireland, pubs that serve food were permitted to reopen on 29 June, however those that don’t must wait until 20 July.

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