Guinness & Carlsberg Back Drought Resistant Grain for Beer

Guinness and Carlsberg collaborate with Brooklyn Brewery on brewing beers using drought-resistant grain that requires no irrigation

World breweries including Carlsberg and Diageo-owned Guinness have joined forces for a project to produce beer using a versatile, ancient drought-resistant West African grain.

The grain, called fonio, has thrived in West Africa for over 5,000 years and is widely used in African cooking, is drought resistant and requires no irrigation, pesticides nor fertilisers.

Now Brooklyn Brewery’s founder Garrett Oliver has launched Brewing for Impact, which will see breweries from seven countries coming together to create a series of limited-edition beers that will spotlight fonio's qualities.

Garrett says: “In some ways ‘Brewing for Impact’ is the most important work I've ever done.

“If what we've started truly catches hold in the industry, we will hopefully start seeing the wider use of a grain that has no need for irrigation, fertilisers, pesticides or other chemical inputs.

“It also supports soil regeneration while providing a vital source of income for thousands of smallholder farms in West Africa, which are predominantly female-led – all while making some really fantastic beers."

The ‘Brewing for Impact’ series of collaborations will also be showing their support for The Michael James Jackson Foundation for Brewing and Distilling, an organisation founded by Garrett.

Water preservation in brewing 'vital' 

The Foundation, which is dedicated to funding scholarship awards for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour within the brewing and distilling trades, will receive a portion of the proceeds from all the beer released under this campaign.

Garrett's brewing exploration with fonio was inspired by Senegalese chef Pierre Thiam, whose pioneering food company Yolélé helped introduce fonio to the Western world.

After watching Thiam's TED talk, Garrett saw the potential of fonio and embarked on a mission to create beers with the grain.

Fonio, known as the ‘seed of the universe’, thrives in nutrient-poor soil in the arid regions near the Sahel Desert where other crops fail.

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