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Myco Insulation Brewery Update

April 2016

What has the Myco-Brew team been up to recently? With the newly refurbished Clean Lab, the Myco-Brew project is back in action! Separate spaces within the same building have been specially designed to fit equally around the process of beer brewing and the creation of sterilised mycelium insulation panels.

Myco Insuation Brewery

Why throw away spent grain from brewing beer when it could become food (substrate) for eco-friendly mycelium insulation panels?

This is the essence of the Myco Insulation Brewery project. At Mediamatic, we have been altering the standard process of beer brewing in order for the waste (barley grain) to be re-used as growing material for mycelium insulation panels for the Sluisdeurenloods.

Previously, the panels were being created as part of an exhibition inside the barn, but the unsuitability of the space halted the project. The refurbished Clean Lab has now enabled the program to reboot. The refurbished space provides two equal spaces - one for the beer brewing (the fermentation kitchen), and one for the mycelium cultivation (the clean room).

The brewing process, through to the mycelium cultivation is a continuous day-long process with brewing starting in the morning and grain inoculation in the afternoon. This new space allows for real team work and for production to flow easily from one phase to the next. If one aspect fails then the whole day of brewing and cultivation fails and the new Clean Lab minimises the chances of failure.

Isa milling the grains

Isa milling the grains

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The grains must be milled in order to reveal their starch for the beer brewing process. Isa is careful not to mill the grains too much as this will produce flour!

Beer Brewing

Production of a tasty beer took a back seat to mycelium cultivation previously, resulting in poor quality beers. It is now the goal of the current team to produce a great tasting beer, unique to Mediamatic, of an equal quality to the mycelium panels.

The beer is currently in its experimental phases of production, with a recipe being trialled every week, each with slight tweaks. Approximately 50 litres is brewed each time. So far there have been 3 brews, with changes made to yeast and fermentation temperatures. The brew team are so far using a simple SMASH recipe (single malt and single hop) in order to try to establish the different characters they are able to create.

The team are using a modified brewing process for the beer as they are boiling the grains in a method of pasteurisation rather than removing them after the mashing process (as is normal practice). The reason for boiling the grains is so that there are less bacteria / micro organisms when they are inoculated with mycelium spawn.

Work in Progress

The brew team is currently still working on creating a temperature controlled fermentation chamber. Keeping a constant fermentation temperature is vital because if other variables are changed for each brew, such as yeast quantities, results with not be constant and reliable.

The first tastings will be in 2 or 3 weeks so watch this space!

Brewing Beer!

Brewing Beer!

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Hugo is stirring the brew in the Clean Lab in order to maintain optimum temperatures t each stage of the brew process.

Mycelium Cultivation

One constant is that the spent beer grains are still being used! After the grains have been removed from the brewing process, they are dried with a centrifuge machine to spin out the remaining moisture. This is a new process as watery substrate was a key element of failure before. The grains are then sterilised using a pressure cooker, which heats them to 121°C to get rid of any remaining organisms. The substrate is then innoculated with mycelium spawn and incubated for up to four weeks to create an insulation panel.

When the panels are fully grown, they are sterilised to stop mushroom growth. The panels are not only heat resistant, but also fire-resistant.

Work in Progress

As with the brew team, the mycelium cultivation team still have progress to make and experiments to carry out. At present, the team is developing better incubators to provide an optimal growing environment for the mycelium.

Clean Lab manager Ramon

Clean Lab manager Ramon

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Ramon lays out the spent beer grains into a shaped panel ready to experiment with creating mycelium-based insulation.

To jute or not to jute?

To jute or not to jute?

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The use of old cacao jute bags is still in its experimental phases for the mycelium panels.

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