Corn chips made from a distillery by product

Corn chips made from a distillery by-product

A company from Lanaudière is about to launch its second food product made from grain leftovers from alcohol production.

Alice & Ambre, based in Saint-Ambroise-de-Kildare, a commune a few kilometers north-west of Joliette, has been marketing its Rebon brand crackers since 2020, designed to enhance microbrewery draff, ie the leftover cereals used as a base for once filtered beer. After two years of research, the company, with the help of Saint-Hyacinthe-based agri-food company Cintech, is now launching a corn tortilla chip made from distiller’s grains.

“As early brewers, we wondered what we could do to add value to spent grains, that by-product of grains, mainly barley, whose sugars were used by the yeasts in the brewing process, but still contained a lot of fiber and protein,” says Patrick Mougin, co-owner of Alice & Ambre and co-founder of craft brewery Maltstrom, also near Joliette.

Most commonly obtained by farmers to feed their animals, microbrewery spent grains, and by extension beer, require a lot of precautions in handling. Due to the proliferation of microorganisms, it needs to be put in the fridge and conditioned quickly, with the risk of it decomposing and ending up in the compost or bins.

Its recovery is therefore a challenge for companies wishing to recycle it for human consumption.

According to Mr Mougin, the problem will be less glaring with the draff from the distillery, which produces spirits rather than beer.

“In a microbrewery, the mixture of grain and water, called wort, is heated to less than 70 degrees Celsius,” he explains. In the distillery, on the other hand, it is boiled in the still for several hours, which kills the bacteria. We therefore have a little more time to handle the spent grains before there is a risk of contamination.

For the production of the potato chips, Alice & Ambre chose spent corn from the production of Saga-Gin from the Distillerie Grand Dérangement in Saint-Jacques-de-Montcalm, also in Lanaudière.

“We are very proud to participate in this project, which seems to be one of the first to promote marc from distillers,” says Louis-Vincent Gagnon, distiller at Distillerie Grand Dérangement, noting that this by-product is quite rare in Quebec, as most Quebec distilleries buy their base alcohol from large Ontario distilleries.

“So you don’t have any spent grain to dispose of. The Grand Dérangement distillery is one of the few that makes its own alcohol from certified organic corn grown on-site by its owner,” he explains.

Alice & Ambre potato chips are also sold under the Rebon brand.