BEER STOOL

Beer Stool is a bar stool made of spent grains, a byproduct of brewing beer.

Reusing spent grains and turning it into a friendly sustainable material that can be use to replace wood or other building material to reach the recycle and reduce the consumption of the material in this industry.

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Project Type /

Individual Project

Institution /

Parsons School of Design

Collaboration /

Strong rope brewery

Year /

2018

Skills practiced /

Material testing

BACKGROUND

Beer is the most popular beverage after water to New Yorkers. It creates a huge market for locals but it also produces a lot of waste and byproducts while consuming considerable material. 

Brewery

800 million gallons

New York

320 breweries in NY

Facts behind brewery

Organic waste, namely spent grains, are a result of the brewery process. Tons of spent grains are created when brewing beer but there is no a typical way to dispose of it as it cannot be directly composted.

Problem

“Can I find a way to deal with this byproduct without considering the storage or fresh or chemical problems?” 

DESIGN PROCESS

Collaboration - Strong Rope Brewery

In order to understand more about the brewery process and how they handle spent grains in a small local brewery scale. I worked with the small local brewery called Strong Rope Brewery to learn the secret behind the brewery and get the material from them to test my idea.

After several visits, I found out the spent grains are the organic waste that easily to becomes sour. It needs a special chemical process before dumping it. But some small breweries don’t have the budget or space to do that and end up directly sending it to the landfill. How to turn the wet spent grains into something useful became my priority to solve.

Jason Sahler, brewer

“For a small brewery, we don’t have space to store spent grains and keep it fresh. If we can turn spent grains into something durable, that will be the best.”

INSPIRATION 

Considering how much spent grains and the energy and money we need to spend to handle it, I started to think about another way to reuse or recycle it. Inspired by compressed material like MDF and recycled cork, I decided to turn the spent grains into a material that can be machined or reused.

MATERIAL TESTING

Base on what I learned from Strong Rope Brewery and my material experiment. I decided to use waterbased wood glue as a adhesive and I realized that the best ratio of adhesive, water and spent grains is 2:1:4. This ratio is critical for my design. It determines how strong the material will be. 

3D structure

Best thickness, 1 inch

Dry to slow, 2 inch

Too weak, 1/4 inch

IDEATION

After experiment, I started to consider how I can use this new spent grains board. By observation of the bar consumption and the insight from interviews, this material will get more value if I can bring it back into the brewery industry. Then, I looked into the object in the bar environment which is not only important but also I can reconsider the material consumption. Bar stools are the one came into my mind. 

SKETCH

MOCK-UP & PROTOTYPING

FINAL DESIGN

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