How about a nice tall glass of ice-cold beer… made from recycled sewage water?
Did you hesitate? Well, now let’s think about it: most breweries use some combination of hops, malted barley, yeast, and…. well… clean water! But beer from recycled wastewater? That’s exactly what took place March 19-10 at the 2017 WateReuse California Annual Conference in San Diego. The City of San Diego’s Pure Water San Diego program hosted a fun competition event at the conference, where they asked homebrewers to concoct their favorite pale ales or IPAs using water exclusively sourced from the reuse program, and then offer samples of the created goods to attendees.
In addition to the competition, local San Diego breweries such as Stone Brewing and Ballast Point also showed off a few specialty brews made from water sourced from the program and offered samples to attendees. So how did this process work?
The program in San Diego uses what is known as “Title 22” water, which is secondary effluent collected from specified wastewater treatment plants. The water is treated in much the same way as any other treatment plant, but then is sent through a more in-depth process of ozonation, activated carbon filters, microfiltration (gotta get those bugs out!), reverse osmosis, and UV oxidation. At the end, the water is so pure that minerals must be added back in so it does not corrode the pipes used to transport it. (remember, water is the universal solvent!) So, was the beer any good?
If attendance was any indicator, the conference event drew a packed exhibitor hall with fans lining up for the homebrewer competition to sample their favorite beer. Three local homebrewers were awarded cash prizes as the winners, based on their frothy works. Bear in mind though, the reclaimed water program is still under development as the full infrastructure is slowly phased in. The city does not yet supply this water as standard product to regular breweries in San Diego. So don’t go sidling up to the bar at one of these breweries in San Diego and yell out to the barkeep for the “Sewage Ale!” or “Commode Stout!” or “Shower Water Pilsner!” If you do, you’ll probably be asked to leave. But fear not, with over 750 craft breweries in California alone, and on the heels of the State’s chronic drought issue, it won’t be long before this program is in full swing and satisfying thirsts up and down the Golden State every Friday & Saturday night.
Until then, the hard-working folks at Sterlitech Corporation will continue to develop and offer cutting edge filtration technology to help ensure researchers at utilities, university labs, private R&D, and yes microbreweries, have the tools they need to keep water a top priority in our communities.