BOLD FILTERED: Wastewater Beer Brews Controversy

A Canadian brewery has decided to brew one of its most popular blonde ales in a new way, and they’re hoping their customers—and beer lovers everywhere— will not only be able to embrace the origins of their new batch but perhaps even better understand the important reasoning behind the bold, small-batch run. Teaming up with local university researchers, the brewery had decided to brew a limited batch of 1,600 cans in an effort to show that dirty water—if filtered properly—is perfectly safe to drink no matter how it was previously used.  

Outside of proving that even toilet water can produce delicious, refreshing ales the goal is to draw attention to the shrinking water supply all around the globe. Studies continue to show that water consumption has been rising around the world. There are wo main reasons for this increase in consumption. One is booming populations, as everyone needs water to survive. Not only is water necessary for all bodily functions, but it is essential for hygiene and cooking. With a growing population and a fixed fresh water supply, something needs to be done. 

Another major reason for dwindling water supplies is actually the result of what most generally perceive as a positive: improved economic development. As countries become wealthier, they construct systems to deliver water directly to the home. That, of course, leads to the use of modern appliances that use water like washing machines and dishwashers. Also, high income countries (HICs) increase their water footprint by growth in commercial agriculture and added tourism. Of course, not all countries are the same; those along the equator receive higher levels of rainfall, while those north and south of the equator experience water scarcity. 

While projects such as wastewater beer could lead to widespread and diverse solutions for potable water shortages, there is the issue of getting past the initial “yuck factor”. Most people can accept that water is reused for irrigation and other commercial purposes but to drink? Beyond the conversation about how such a thing is accomplished and why it is essential, there is the problem of opening minds to the idea of re-consuming water. Certainly, educating consumers about the complex systems that treat most municipal wastewater which involve a number of different filtration processes must go hand-in-hand with the marketing of such products. Commercial filtration terms like ultrafiltration, ozone, ultraviolet light and reverse osmosis need to become as common among consumers as “cold filtered”. 

According to reports, the idea of making beer from wastewater began as a joke that quickly became a serious conversation about sustainability and repurposed wastewater. While modern customers are often driven by environmentally progressive methods and practices, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re open to sip beer brewed from toilet water — even if the only difference between “fresh” water beer and beer brewed from dirty water sources is that one is made from water that comes from a tap and the other is made from water that was delivered in a tank. Of course, the ultimate deciding factor is taste. If the beverage tastes exactly the same, treated wastewater brewers will more likely risk their reputations and step into a conservation role.

The technology is there and available for working with alternative water sources such as wastewater, grey water and stormwater to produce safe practices for both potable and non-potable end-uses. The science is convincing, especially if one considers that natural systems have been purifying water for millions of years. Today, we can count on quality filtration products that combine years of research and innovation to produce even better results.

For more information, check out Graver’s wide selection of filtration products for the special application needs of the brewery industry. Also, have a look at Graver’s solutions for drinking water filtration and industrial wastewater treatment.