Alberta is focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions to limit climate change in many ways, including using and/or storing carbon dioxide (CO2) rather than releasing it into the atmosphere. Blindman Brewing is an innovative craft brewer that is demonstrating how breweries can make an impact on CO2 capture and utilization while lowering their cost of production.

When yeast consumes sugars to make alcohol, CO2 is a byproduct. Blindman Brewing has been on a mission to capture the CO2 from fermentation and reuse it to carbonate beer. According to Craft Brewing Business, a trade website, breweries can reduce monthly CO2 expenses by more than 50 percent and emissions by up to 50 percent by using carbon capture technology.

As well as using the COby-product the brewery produces, it also purchases bulk CO2 to use in carbonation. By partnering with organizations such as Earthly Labs, Olds College, and the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute, Blindman is creating a circular system that will capture and reuse CO2 on site.

Located in Lacombe, Blindman Brewery was founded in 2014 by Kirk Zembal, Shane Groendahl, Hans Doef, and Dave Vander Plaat. The vision is to create flavourful beer using the best local ingredients while supporting the local communities and people who live there.

The Blindman Brewing team recently opened a newly expanded taproom in Lacombe and have been investing in sustainability initiatives, such as putting 180 solar panels on their roof, which has saved more than 50 tonnes of CO2 from being emitted. They’ve also set up a packaging recycling program with like-minded brewers, which has grown to be the largest on the continent.

Blindman was one of the winners of Emissions Reduction Alberta’s Food, Farming and Forestry Challenge, which is helping to de-risk the project with approximately $100,000 in funding. Otherwise, the project is funded by cash from operations and is intended to demonstrate a technology that is financially viable without any government support. The technology pays for itself within two to three years and then provides cost savings for the life of the equipment. With about 1,500 other breweries in Canada, there is a big opportunity to reduce emissions and make the Canadian craft brewing sector more competitive and sustainable.

Using Machine Learning is the next step. As fermentation involves living organisms (yeast), it is susceptible to process shifts that are hard to predict. This impacts the quality and quantity of the CO2 produced. Blindman believes that the application of Machine Learning to act as a pattern recognizer will help optimize the capture and reuse of CO2. In addition, the successful application of Machine Learning in a craft brewery context has the potential to be expanded to other aspects of the process, and to lead to a deeper understanding of the biological process behind fermentation.