Beer produced with geothermal heating

Date: 25/02/2019

The Tuscan brewery “Vapori di Birra” in Sasso Pisano produces its beers with geothermal energy. An example of how history, community and renewable sources can ferment together to create a quality, eco-friendly craft beer.

In the heart of Tuscany, beer is flavored with sustainability. In addition to water, malt, barley and hops, the brewery “Vapori di Birra” in Sasso Pisano, in the province of Pisa, uses a special ingredient in its recipe: geothermal energy.

It all started in 2013, when Edo Volpi decided to combine his passion for beer, nutraceuticals, sustainability and connection to the community to create a high-quality artisanal product, with a minimized environmental impact.

Located in the heart of the Tuscan geothermal area, “Vapori di birra” is the first Italian brewery to use the heat from the earth for its production, continuing the centuries-long history that links Tuscany to geothermal energy.

The taste of sustainability
Sasso Pisano is known for its boraciferous fumaroles, high-pressure and high-temperature vapor emissions from the ground. Not far from the brewery, you can find Enel Green Power’s historical Sasso 2 geothermal plant, remodeled in 2009 and equipped with 20 MW of installed power. Through a system of carefully studied ducts that are shared with district heating, the vapor from the plant is routed toward the brewery, which uses it for all the beer production phases that require heat.The vapor gets to the brewery at about 230° and, with a heat exchanger, is turned into water heated to 136° and inserted in a closed circuit.

The first step in beer production involves mashing ground malts and water heated to 78°. Then, the product is first filtered, and then put back into the press, where geothermal heat brings the water to a boil.

Then there is the fermenter, where the beer is born, and then washes, where water heated with geothermal energy is also used. Geothermal vapor is never in direct contact with the beer, so its organoleptic, nutritional and flavor properties remain unchanged.At the end of the process, the brewery “returns” the used-up vapor to EGP, who takes care of cooling it further and returning it to the subsoil, in order to guarantee the source’s sustainability over time. Thanks to the earth’s heat, “Vapori di birra” is able to produce 8 different kinds of beer, all with names somehow linked to geothermal energy: from a Weiss called Sulfurea to the red beer Magma, the special honey beer Thera, and a local chili pepper beer, Fiamma.
A sustainable beer
Using geothermal vapor to produce beer, like the Sasso Pisano brewery does, is an economic advantage, in addition to being good for the environment. The brewery saw a 25% cost reduction compared to when it used traditional energy. It’s also beneficial to the local economy in general, to increase a new kind of sustainable tourism.

It’s an important gift, which is reinvested directly into the business to improve production processes, choose the best raw materials and creating better beers, which then attract new customers. With “Vapori di birra”, it is a virtuous cycle, both environmental and economic, triggered by a renewable source like geothermal energy.