Bent Paddle

What goes in:

Over 3,000 cases of expired beer

What comes out:

Renewable electricity, recycled aluminum and cardboard

As the world shut down abruptly in the first months of 2020, the cascading effects of closed-down businesses hit small local food and beverage companies with full force. In Duluth, Minnesota, Bent Paddle, a beloved local brewery and taproom, paused all operations—but found that they had an excess of beer on hand that was going to expire before it could be transported and sold.

Head brewer, Tim Wilson, recalls the challenge: “There was a point in the pandemic where we had produced tons of different beer, and it all had an expiration date. I had heard about VIRESCO from another brewer, and knew that they would recycle the cans and create energy out of the liquid.” In their first partnership with VIRESCO, Bent Paddle was able to turn 3,000 cases of beer into clean electricity—as well as have all the packaging recycled.

In another instance, Bent Paddle had an issue with shrink wrap on their cans. “We called them the ‘licky cans,’ said Wilson, “because anytime somebody would drink out of one of those cans, they would get a weird off-flavor due to the shrink-wrapped label not being cured properly in the manufacturing process of one of our suppliers. And VIRESCO helped us again, with a full truckload where we were able to dispose of the product responsibly.”

Before finding out about VIRESCO, Bent Paddle would deal with product issues such as these themselves, with staff opening individual cans and dumping them down the drain—but that never felt right. “We try to be progressive on many fronts, and donate money, beer, auction and raffle items, tours—all to hundreds of nonprofits since opening in 2013. We like the fact that we can get rid of unwanted product in a sustainable way when things don’t work out the way we plan. Plus VIRESCO is responsive and willing to work with us—handling things that are out of our control, but can still turn into something good.”

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