Turning Bath Water Into Beer

Brewers are using treated wastewater to make green beverages.

Brewing uses a lot of water: from the irrigation needed to grow barley and hops to the water that ends up in the bottle. American brewers use an average of 7 liters of water to make one liter of beer.

This has prompted craft breweries to think about how they can reduce their water footprint to become more sustainable. One solution that some breweries have experimented with is using treated wastewater to make beer. So is. We are talking about water that was probably once in a bath.

A Canadian brewery called Village Brewery has become the latest to make a batch of beer using this method. The Calgary, Alberta brewery has released a lager using treated municipal wastewater to draw attention to the issue of water safety.

Tastes exactly like a standard product. The only difference is that instead of taking water from the tap, they took it from us.

Christine O’Grady, Advancing Canadian Wastewater Assets Program Coordinator at the University of Calgary

Christine O’Grady has worked with Village Brewery and a water technology company called Xylem Inc. to produce the beer.

To make the wastewater safe for brewing, it was processed in what is known as a bio-disposal treatment plant. After that, O’Grady says there were additional steps that involved ultrafiltration, oxidation and reverse osmosis. The water was tested to ensure that no pathogens remained, and at the end of the process it was as clean as tap water.

Brewers say the biggest barrier to more breweries using treated wastewater in their beer is that consumers still reject the idea. O’Grady calls this the “yuck factor.” He says that people are grossed out by the idea of ​​drinking recycled wastewater.

I think we have proven very effectively that it is clean and safe water, but people still have to overcome that mental hurdle.

In 2018, a group of Swedish brewers and wastewater technicians made one of the first batches of beer marketed using wastewater. A collaboration of the Nya Carnegie Brewery, the Swedish Institute for Environmental Research IVL and Carlsberg Sweden teamed up to produce a pilsner called PU: REST in order to try to overcome public aversion to drinking treated wastewater more widely (and not just in Beer).

By doing this type of project, you can overcome resistance [to drinking sewage].

Staffan Filipsson, IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute

As water safety is becoming a growing problem around the world, especially in landlocked countries, O’Grady hopes this batch of beer will help create greater awareness that this technology exists and that we can reuse water in many ways.

We don’t have to take everything from Earth. We can return part of it.

More information: www.brewersassociation.org

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