The New Beer Frontier: California Brewers Look to Grey Water for Brewing
Recycled water could be the new way for beer production to go green…wait, what?
Last October, Maverick Brewing Company (a Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. affiliate) released a version of its own Tunnel Vision IPA made entirely from grey water, or water runoff from washing machines, sinks, showers, etc. that is treated with the same advanced filtering technology astronauts use in outer space to convert urine into drinking water. Sounds pretty gross, I know.
Don’t let your psychological inhibitions hold you fast, though. This effort is actually more rewarding than you think.
Waste water beer is actually gaining clout
During the blind taste test Maverick Brewing conducted at Meeting of the Minds 2015 in Richmond, California last year, a well-respected beer consul from the Nederlands could not tell the difference between two brews made with either type of water. Jennifer Biesty, owner of Shakewell restaurant in Oakland, gave it praise, among many others.
Realizing its success, Maverick Brewing also gave free samples of Grey Water Tunnel Vision IPA (as it is unofficially named) last January to participants at the S.O.S Festival in Half Moon Bay.
The micro and marco problems with grey water brewing
As you can imagine, the idea of drinking something made from what essentially is re-purposed toilet water is a prima facie endeavor; regardless of its high-purity traits, it is still a hard sell to the general public at first glance. Grey Water Tunnel Vision IPA is a great start though, as it seems to be doing well at this point through taste tests and free samples.
The bigger problem, however, is that selling consumables of any fashion with recycled water is currently illegal in California. Don’t confuse this with the state’s current “toilet-to-tap” water conservation efforts.
The reason grey water beer is outlawed is because it is commercial, and since California has yet to amend its regulatory laws that provision such a practice, it remains unlawful to sell.
Grey water beer’s bigger picture
There is a silver lining to this plight, however. Going back to NASAs space filtration system, some breweries like Lagunitas Brewing Co. are investing in EcoVolt, a highly-industrial waste water filtration system that contains electrically-driven, anaerobic microorganisms that remove up to 90 percent of pollutants.
In other words, the activated bacteria in the filtration system help clean the water to achieve a very high purity rating. Thus, reducing the overhead costs involved in transporting water, energy use and overall environmental footprint.
How this would affect you as a consumer
While this technology has imminent benefits to brewers and local economies, there is a benefit to the customer, too.
With lower overhead, potentially shorter production cycles and potentially higher distribution, customers can enjoy beer that is both just good as its freshwater counterparts and perhaps a little cheaper in the long run as well.
Let the Bureau Know
Would you drink beer that was made from reclaimed water? Answer below.