One of the key ingredients in beer making is malt barley, but what happens to barley that isn’t used in the brewing process?

One Regina-based brewery has found a way to use up more byproducts of their beer that are no longer needed – sending it back to farmers.

“We get the malted barley, we would add the hot water and extract the good stuff we need for the beer,” said Joe van Heerden with District Brewing Company. “Then afterwards there is a significant amount of grain left over that obviously we don’t want left over that obviously we don’t want in the beer.”

The company is sending the non-usable barley, also known as spent grain to cattle farmers, who use it as feed.

“It’s valuable product for farmers because they can feed it to their cattle and so it’s a win-win situation,” said Walter Martin, a brewer with District Brewing. “We let the farmer take it away and then we don’t have to pay for the trash to be taken away.”

Colton Fink, a farmer who picks up spent grain from District, says his cows “love” eating the barley from the brewery.

“Most of the sugars are taken out, it’s still high in protein and high in fibre so there’s really no risk to the cows if you want to feed it to them for most of their diet,” Fink told CTV News. “It just needs a few supplements and it’s fairly healthy feed.”

Fink farms in the Lumsden valley, and says he appreciates this partnership between himself and District.

It’s a treat for his cattle – and he usually gets a treat too.

“I get to go pick up some grain, grab a beer on the way and the cows get a tasty treat at the end of the day,” Fink said.

 “I don’t see it as waste,” van Heerden said. “We don’t see it as waste so there’s no reason we should waste it.”

The partnership allows the barley to go full circle – grown in a Saskatchewan field and put back in a Saskatchewan field.

Based on a report by CTV Regina’s Cally Stephanow