Fill 'er up – with Coors

Colorado brewery turns waste into ethanol to use as gas substitute

The Coors brewery in Golden, Colo., and Merrick & Co. of Aurora have struck up a partnership to use beer waste to process 1.5 million gallons a year of the gas substitute ethanol.

A plant built nine years ago in Golden distills the leftovers from beer making has been such a success that a second facility will open soon.
The second plant will double ethanol production at the brewery, partly by gathering millions of gallons of spilled beer and putting it directly into the process via an underground pipeline.

“With the demand high and the need even higher, it seemed like a great time to expand,” said Steven Wagner, the Merrick vice president who helps lead the Coors ethanol project. Under a 15-year agreement, the company leases land from Coors, buys the residuals from the brewer and owns the plant.

The ethanol is sold under a contract with Valero Energy Corp., which distributes the ethanol to Diamond Shamrock stations.

“We’ve basically taken a waste stream and turned it into a revenue stream,” Wagner said.

Merrick and Coors officials declined to provide financial details of the deal. Ethanol at the plant generally is sold near wholesale-market value. Last week in Denver that was about $2.50 a gallon.


  1. Butcher Scott says

    I’ve always wondered why more of this doesn’t occur – it’s a natural fit.

    Also, I’m proud to say that my company (Valero) is the only company that can offer you gasoline made from beer. 🙂

  2. dick murton says

    Butcher Scott wrote: I’ve always wondered why more of this doesn’t occur – it’s a natural fit.

    Most of us try not to spill or spoil beer in the first place – especially in quantities required to make an ethanol plant viable. But I do agreee that using an old brewery to produce ethanol for vehicle use may be better economics than a brand new production plant.