Timberfish turns booze into food – fish food

Out on farmland in western New York, near the shore of Lake Erie, is Five & 20 Spirits and Brewing. Here, they make more than just booze. They also raise fish.

Inside a large white structure set back behind the brewery is a land-based aquaculture system. It’s the life’s work of Jere Northrop, founder of TimberFish Technologies.Stillage — a byproduct of brewing — flows from a pipe into a steel bin. It’s the color and texture of watery, chunky peanut butter.

“You can see it’s pretty gooky looking stuff, but it’s actually a tremendous food source if you’re a microbe, so it’s a good thing,” Northrop says.

And it’s the first step in a food chain. Air flows throughout the system, allowing microbes to break down and eat the stillage. The microbes are fed to invertebrates like earth worms, snails and insect larva. And then, fish get to feast on them.

“So instead of discharging the waste stream into the environment where it can cause water pollution and odor and all those kinds of things we turn that into a saleable product,” Northrop says.

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