©Stadshaven Brouwerij

Uniting the pleasant with the useful. That, in a nutshell, is the philosophy of a newcomer to the old Rotterdam port area. Stadshaven Brouwerij is endeavoring to work as sustainably as possible by reusing wastewater and residual heat in the brewing process and using solar panels, scooter batteries and the residuals from the brewing process for cows on the nearby floating farm. The latter fits in with collaborating with innovative businesses in the neighborhood.

Harm van Deuren of the Bierfabriek, the company behind the new brewery-cum-catering facility in the Merwehaven area near Schiedam, waxes enthusiastic about the Stadshaven Brewery. He points to the size of both the brewery and the catering area and the aim to be circular. That combination is innovative, he asserts.

“We are starting out at a size that an average craft beer brewery wouldn’t attain for twenty years. It will produce two million liters a year and we will have a huge catering area with 350 seats for a total combined area of 5,000 square meters, which is already really ‘overwhelming’. But if you want to talk about circularity, we also stand out.”

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    Old scooter batteries

    It’s more than a sales pitch because the Stadshaven Brewery is indeed striving to work as sustainably as possible. There are several elements for achieving that, including the 1,700 solar panels on the roof that generate 400,000 kWh annually.

    An original solution has been found for utilizing a portion of the sustainably generated energy. The brewery participated in the Rotterdam Unlocked competition for solutions to circular issues. The Schiedam-based company StoredEnergy was the winner.

    Van Deuren says: “That is actually a business in our neighborhood. They use old batteries from rental scooters. After three years their capacity is reduced to 70 percent and they must then be replaced. We can make good use of them to store the energy needed in the catering industry in the evenings. Think of the lamps on the terrace. Otherwise these batteries are thrown away.”

    Wastewater

    StoredEnergy has developed a method to turn old batteries into large ones, 100 of them for the brewery. Surplus energy from the solar panels is stored in these batteries.

    Part of sustainable brewing is the careful handling of residual heat. “We have state-of-the-art machines for this from Germany. They are hypermodern and super-efficient since the heat released during cooling is reused as preheated brewing water.”

    Other neighbors of the brewery are also making an appearance. “Take Rainmaker, an innovative company in the field of water purification. A graduate student was put on that. Our wastewater is collected, purified and reused for brewing water. Such a contribution is particularly interesting for African countries where water is scarce. This way it can be used sparingly.”

    Harm van Deuren (r) © Stadshaven Brewery

    Brewers

    Rainmaker has built up some fame by generating water from air and purifying seawater, for example. Its focus is on regions where drinking water is scarce, which is why Van Deuren mentions Africa. As a brewery, the Rotterdam newcomer is an interesting test case.
    Van Deuren stresses the importance of water in the brewing process. “You have to realize that making one liter of beer requires four liters of water. So reusing it means huge profits.”

    Another method of reuse is not new, but the specific target group is. It involves brewers’ spent grains or BSG, a waste product that has been used as animal feed more often than not. In the case of Stadshaven Brewery, that has its own interpretation.

    Sustainability is in our blood.

    Harm van Deuren

    “Normally this is collected by cattle feed companies. But we are doing this differently, too. We are close to the so-called Floating Farm, the first of its kind. Our BSG goes directly from the brewery to the cows on this floating farm.”

    Some of the BSG goes to a Rotterdam baker, which is where the beer bread on the menu in the restaurant comes from. In their quest to have as much of a local cycle as possible in terms of raw materials and processing their own products, hops is an exception. “It’s not easy to get good local hops for the brewing process,” Van Deuren explains.

    Why try to be as sustainable as possible? “It’s just in our blood. We all have to realize that it’s going to stop one day. The great thing about this brewery is that we started with a blank sheet, so we could fill in everything to our liking. That included circularity.”

    Refurbishing

    The Stadshaven Brewery and its catering facilities on the Galileïstraat in Rotterdam are an initiative of Bierfabriek. It started as a combination of microbrewery and restaurant, with Van Deuren as co-founder. The Rotterdam location is the fourth after Amsterdam, Delft and Almere and was to be officially opened this spring. Due to the pandemic, the real opening is now scheduled during May, although the brewery is already up and running.

    Rotterdam is pleased with their arrival and has cooperated in finding a good location. The Port of Rotterdam Authority itself suggested locating in the old fruit warehouse on the Merwehaven. And it took care of the renovation of the building.

    This fits in with the transformation of the former port area into an environment with innovative, sustainable businesses. The Port of Rotterdam Authority wants to play a pioneering role in the global energy transition. The Stadshaven Brewery fits in well with this development.

    The Merwehaven and its surroundings used to be known for the storage of fruit and vegetables. For a long time a change has been underway. In the 1990s the area got a rundown image due to the prostitution zone on the Keileweg. The zone was accompanied by a lot of drug nuisance in the port area and adjacent residential area.

    Apart from new businesses to brighten up the area on the edge of Rotterdam and Schiedam, this transitional area will also be given a new lease on life through the establishment of a catering industry. Also, in the Merwe-Vierhavens area 5,500 homes will be added.

    Also interesting: ‘Iron strong beer’ brewed with energy from metal powder, sustainable alternative to coal (Dutch only)

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    About the author

    Author profile picture Paul Smits is a political scientist and works as a journalist. Most of the time Paul worked as a reporter for a newspaper (Rotterdams Dagblad, AD). He now operates as a freelancer from South America (Ecuador).