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Delicious Californian gray water beer

Posted on 24 June 2016.

In California, which experiences drought every year, an architect and a brewery are offering beer made from recycled water.

California faces devastating droughts every year. Artisanal breweries are large water consumers - it takes between 4 and 6 liters of water to produce 1 liter of beer – so they need to innovate. Lots of them are thinking about new processes that will protect water resources. But lots more continue to get their supplies… from drinking water tankers!

Recycling space technology

The situation angered architect Russ Drinker. Obsessed with the idea of using recycled water instead of just using less, he went on the campaign trail meeting Californian breweries. Only one of them, based south of San Francisco, agreed to review its processes: the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company.

It used "gray water" - the water from showers, sinks and washing machines - treated using a reverse osmosis process developed by NASA. Ultraviolet rays then kill any unwanted bacteria that could still be hanging around. A method used by the astronaut Scott Kelly and the cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko on the International Space Station (ISS).

Bringing gray water in the network

Last October, during a sustainable development conference held in San Francisco Bay, Mavericks - the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company’s standard beer - was made available for tasting. Not even one of the guinea pigs could tell the one made with gray water from the one brewed as usual with drinking water!

However, although the benefits in terms of saving resources are clear, gray water beer will not yet be going into mass production. This non-industrial scale method of treatment is still very expensive. And for the time being the State of California does not allow recycled water to be put back into the drinking water system.

Gray water Mavericks could become the battle cry for raising the awareness of both politicians and the public to the issue of water - which in California is in such desperately short supply.