Adjunct Brewing & beer trends in Africa with DSM’s brewmasters

Ever wondered about beer trends in Africa? Our expert for this region, DSM brewmaster Pierre-Lambert Smal, says the market here is vibrant and growing at a fast clip. I asked him to share some of the trends he’s seeing as well as his insight into how sustainable brewing fits into this dynamic picture.

Meet Pierre Lambert

Pierre-Lambert Smal comes from a family of brewers going back several generations. His passion for beer began with home brewing and flourished as he became a food engineer. After a first position as liquid innovation manager at Carlsberg France he joined DSM as technical service manager for the brewing segment. As an account manager he travels through Africa and helps sustain local farmers through the business created with adjunct brewing. “I have a true purpose when I sell enzymes in Africa.”

Tell us about the beer market in Africa – what trends and developments are you discussing with customers there?

Pierre-Lambert Smal: Africa is a really interesting beer market. Both the western and eastern zones of the continent have a dense population, and every country has multiple breweries. In the north though, the market is less developed because of religious restrictions. There’s huge interest in adjunct brewing in Africa – that is, using some percentage of locally available raw materials other than malt to brew beer. Imported malt is very pricey here, so there’s strong incentive for brewers to experiment with adjuncts (i.e. other grains rather than malt, such as barley and maize) in their recipes, so they can in turn produce affordable, tasty beer.

Even more, using adjuncts promotes the local circular economy, which is really beneficial in this region. In Ethiopia for example, one of the large multinational brewers initiated a program involving 20,000 local farmers growing barley and sourcing it directly to the brewer, skipping the malting process altogether.

What other benefits does brewing with adjuncts offer?

Pierre-Lambert Smal: I think sustainability is one of - if not the – key benefits of brewing with adjuncts. The malting process for barley is extremely energy- and water-intensive. So using less of it, and increasing the ratio of adjuncts, can have a huge impact on reducing CO2 emissions. Brewing with 100% barley can reduce CO2 emissions by 20-22% (versus 100% malt beer) - that’s a significant number. Even using 40% barley instead of malt can reduce CO2 emissions by about 7 to 9%.

There are some other benefits, too. For example, brewing with barley instead of malt requires less land to produce the same amount of beer, as 1,15 tons of barley is required to produce 1 ton of malt and only 1,1 ton of unmalted barley is required when skipping malting to produce the same amount of beer produced with the ton of malt. 

Basically, malting generates losses as energy is released in germination and some weight is removed with the rootlet. And it’s not just barley that’s being used; I’m also seeing brewers using unmalted material such as sorghum, maize, cassava and rice to brew unique new beers.

DSM Brew masters, Theo Wijsman & Pierre Lambert, during their customer visit at a brewery in Central Africa

Where do enzymes fit into the picture?

Pierre-Lambert Smal: When brewers reduce the ratio of malt and increase adjuncts in their beer recipes, they need the help of enzymes to mimic the process that takes place during malting, which consists of modifying the starchy structured endosperm with the endogenous enzymes released during germination of the grain. Our Brewers Compass enzymatic blend mimics the malting effect during the mash conversion stage of brewing, as you can adjust the mashing temperatures to the optimum of the enzyme’s activity and you can achieve a much faster conversion of the starch, proteins and beta-glucans into a well-saccharified mash, ready for good filtration.

I help customers take all their process parameters into consideration – the quality of raw materials, capacity constraints, final product specifications – adjust the process parameters and help them achieve the same beer quality as one brewed with 100% malt. I’m working with a large brewer now that started by using 20% raw barley (replacing malt) in their recipe, and now they’re at 30%.

They’ll likely go to 35% barley replacement next year. We finetune the enzymes dosage, and with each adjustment they’re seeing the yield / attenuation increase, thus sustainability and cost benefits of high adjunct brewing with the help of enzymes.

How does DSM help customers quantify these financial and sustainability benefits?

Pierre-Lambert Smal: We are finding that brewers are really committed to develop more sustainable practices and processes as well as benefitting financially from these energy savings, and they like to quantify the impact of these changes in CO2 equivalents and recipe cost savings it can generate. With a recently developed Adjunct Brewing Calculator, our customers can input a beer recipe, adjust the adjunct proportion and see how it impacts the CO2 emissions and water savings. Before, the industry would talk about these savings in general terms; this tool allows them to use their specific inputs (raw material theoretic yield, prices, brewhouse yield & attenuation target) and get a tailored report based on those. 

There’s already a lot of interest in the tool, and soon we’ll be sharing it more broadly. It really comes down to the calculations and seeing those numbers. For example – the brewer I mentioned that is now using 30% barley instead of malt is saving 2.8 million euro on their malt spend, reducing CO2 emissions by 1450 tons (5%) and saving 32,000 cubic meter of water per year by skipping the malting process.

I truly believe that adjunct brewing is the electric car of the brewing industry – it has the potential to be that game-changing. It sounds futuristic but it really is the here-and-now. The industry is showing its commitment to more sustainable practices and setting targets to get there, and it’s truly satisfying for me to highlight how our enzymes can contribute to a more sustainable way of brewing that protects and sustains the local communities, especially when it comes to Africa.

A diverse collection of various beer recipes from across the globe, featuring DSMs regional Brewmasters.

Our unique enzyme removes your need for consistent high-quality malt by replacing it with barley or other raw materials like rice or cassava: A flexible, versatile – and less expensive - alternative.

Published on

17 June 2020