PRESS RELEASE / Oct. 18, 2023 (Boston, MA) – Zenso Labs, a groundbreaking technology development company, is thrilled to announce its entry into the beverage industry, utilizing innovative biotechnology to transform the future of alcoholic beverages. Founded by a small team of craft brewers and biotechnologists in Massachusetts, Zenso is focused on upcycling brewery and distillery spent grains into high-value products and ingredients, with the aim of helping to tackle the largest industry waste stream with a solution-at-scale. In addition to licensing this technology into the industry, Zenso is launching its own line of flavor-forward hard seltzers and ready-to-drink craft cocktails, as well as an emerging pipeline of novel non-alcoholic sustainable beverages and food products.
At the heart of Zenso’s mission is its cutting edge proprietary technology for converting spent grains into premium ingredients. This proprietary technology not only reduces waste but provides visionary beverage producers with the opportunity to leverage precision fermentation to improve their practice. By repurposing these grains, Zenso is contributing to a circular economy and helping to mitigate the environmental impact of the traditional production processes in the alcoholic beverage industry.
The beverage industry has long grappled with sustainability challenges, with spent grains representing 85% of the solid waste from brewing and distilling, making it the largest byproduct of the industry. Historically, solutions for repurposing spent grains have focused on livestock feed, often resulting in significant haul-away costs for producers and when not used it gets sent to land-fill, emitting half a ton of CO₂ for every ton of spent grain that goes to waste. More recently, spent grains have made their way to the market as food products, ingredients and dietary supplements, which are not only capped by a limited market but leave a void for a scalable solution that delivers inside-value for producers. Through transforming brewery and distillery waste into valuable resources, Zenso aims to significantly reduce waste in the beverage industry, whilst delivering exceptional products to consumers, and providing producers with the opportunity to reduce their grain input and increase their production.
“For decades, we’ve been thinking about how to make our industry a less wasteful one. More than ever, we see the earth as a stakeholder, and we’ve developed a groundbreaking way to make beverage production more sustainable. Lowering our climate impact, while reducing costs and inspiring new production possibilities is a win for all,” says Russ Heissner, Founder at Zenso.
Russ Heissner’s passion for the alcoholic beverage industry started when he was in college at UC Davis, where he spent his evenings working at a California vineyard. Heissner had an epiphany: all the organic waste could potentially be reused and recycled. The dream stayed with him while he began his career in 1986 as the founding Head Brewer at The Harpoon Brewery in Boston, MA. After 30+ years of exploring how synthetic biology tools can be used in the alcoholic beverage industry, Heissner founded local Weymouth brewery Barrel House Z and also started Zenso. In 2019, Heissner caught the attention of American biotech powerhouse Ginkgo Bioworks, where he is currently employed as Director of Business Development. Now, with the launch of Zenso, Heissner continues his vision of creating technology and tools that will enable the industry to become more sustainable. Looking to the future, Heissner’s vision is to help producers bring in additional revenue streams by complimenting their existing capabilities to become micro-biorefineries, ultimately deepening the sustainability impact across the industry.
Made from all-natural ingredients, Zenso’s inaugural line of alcoholic beverages are the embodiment of the brand’s commitment to exceptional taste and sustainable-sipping, and include a Pear Ginger hard seltzer; and a Moscow Muleready-to-drink cocktail.
Zenso’s launch is set to disrupt the beverage industry by redefining the relationship between sustainability, production and great taste. In May 2023, Zenso completed their friends and family round, raising $350,000 with key investors including Ferment Co., a creation studio for the next wave of synthetic biology product companies, and a commercial partner to Ginkgo Bioworks. As Zenso marks its entry into the market and paves the way for a more sustainable future, the company is excited to announce its seed funding. Zenso welcomes investment opportunities from individuals, organizations and investors who share their vision for a greener, more environmentally responsible future in the alcoholic beverage industry.
Founded by a small team of craft brewers and biotechnologists in Massachusetts, Zenso Labs is a groundbreaking technology development company focused on upcycling brewery and distillery spent grains into high-value products and ingredients, with the aim of helping to tackle the largest industry waste stream. Zenso’s cutting edge technology not only reduces waste but provides visionary beverage producers with the opportunity to leverage precision fermentation to improve their practice. By repurposing these grains, Zenso is contributing to a circular economy and helping to mitigate the environmental impact of the traditional production processes in the alcoholic beverage industry. In addition to licensing this technology into the industry, Zenso is launching its own line of flavor-forward hard seltzers and ready-to-drink craft cocktails.