Nutrition & Biosciences -brewing experts developed a brewing enzyme for the well-known brand Eagle Beer, from Nile Breweries Ltd., owned by AB InBev (formerly SABMiller). Nile Breweries use locally sourced sorghum for brewing. This locally produced beer supports more than 20,000 smallholder farmers, and has inspired similar initiatives right across the continent.
Sorghum, a starch in the grass family, is grown in Uganda and many parts of the world. In addition to brewing, it is used in many food products. Sorghum is uniquely adapted to harsh climates such as East Africa where there is frequently a cycle of drought and flood.
Beer is typically brewed with malted barley which contains the enzymes necessary for the brewing process. Sorghum, in countries where barley is not grown, is an alternative brewing raw material. It contains some, but not all the enzymes necessary to make beer. Alphalase® Sorghum provides the catalyst to produce high quality beer from sorghum. It addresses the difficulties of sorghum brewing.
Nutrition & Biosciences Alphalase® Sorghum enables the production of beers from locally-grown sorghum that is consistent in style and flavor to internationally recognized beer brands.
Applied in the production of Eagle lager has led to process efficiency and fermentation consistency
Over a decade ago, the then SABMiller (now acquired by AB InBev) began production of Eagle lager in Uganda using locally produced sorghum. Market share has since grown considerably and at the same time helped to promote sustainable development in the country. The company engaged with Uganda’s government to secure excise concessions for beer brewed using home-grown ingredients and helping to improve livelihoods.
Nile Breweries has also impacted the community on a social welfare level. The company has distributed millions of liters of water and awarded educational scholarships. The company has facilitated HIV and AIDS screenings for farmers and stakeholders in Uganda, and provided additional support to those people who tested positive in the screenings.
In addition to the huge strides for the community and its economy and welfare. By using sorghum instead of malted barley helps reduce the impact of brewing on the environment by allowing for savings on water and energy usage in the malting process, resulting in a fifteen-percent smaller carbon footprint than other types of beers.
Both Nutrition & Biosciences and Eagle Lager have been recognized for their parts in revolutionizing the sorghum brewing process. The teams behind Nutrition & Biosciences Alphalase® Sorghum were awarded a Sustainable Growth Excellence Award for creating the new enzyme solution. For its part Eagle Lager was the 2016 winner of the supply chain category of the Guardian Sustainable Business Awards.
Eagle’s success promises to have widespread applicability. It demonstrates how sustainability can inject a cottage industry into the broader economic cycle—without losing any of its local focus or flavor. And it shows how development can be reconfigured to reward the people who make it possible. It may even represent a new model for development.
IN THE LAB + IN THE WORLD is a series that examines how the science we do in our labs is having a positive impact on the world.