Rainwater beer

Posted on 13 October 2016.

In Amsterdam, Joris Hoebe changes rainwater into “heaven’s water”.

After a very wet spring, summer 2016 did not augur well in Netherlands. Fortunately Joris Hoebe, a student at the University of Applied Sciences in Amsterdam, took advantage of the inclement weather to concoct a seasonal beer from filtered rainwater. Dubbed Hemelswater ("heaven’s water” in English), this lager is bitter, fruity and fresh, similar to an IPA (India Pale Ale). It has been on the market since July and is served on tap in a number of bars and restaurants in the Dutch capital.

Heavy rainfall changes into a unique, circular beer

Aware that brewing beer requires large amounts of water and that too much rain can cause significant damage, Joris Hoebe decided to take advantage of the heavy spring rains to offer Amsterdammers an environmentally friendly beer – at the same time demonstrating there are a myriad of uses for rainwater. The idea attracted Brouwerij de Prael, a small Amsterdam brewery renowned for its specialty beers and social action, which decided to join forces with Joris.

Backed by a team of students, the creator of Hemelswater installed two tanks in the grounds of his university and, after two weeks of solid rainfall in May, managed to collect nearly 1,000 liters of rainwater. Transported to the de Prael brewery, cleaned using a special bacterial filtration system, it was boiled and then used to make beer.

Joris Hoebe explained in the Guardian that Hemelswater was inspired by a government initiative, called "Amsterdam Rainproof", which aims to make Dutch people aware of the consequences of heavy rain in urban settings and the need to increase the city’s ability to absorb it like a sponge.

Amsterdam is "Sponge City"

The term "Sponge City" describes a set of innovative water management strategies aimed at more effectively absorbing, storing, and reusing rainwater to avoid the risk of flash floods.

Make rainwater a resource, is the motto of Makoto Murase, a pioneer in this field. "Some of the rainwater could be used to recharge aquifers or irrigate urban gardens and allotments,” explains a Guardian journalist. “And some could replace the drinking water we use for flushing toilets and cleaning our homes. It could even be treated to become drinking water."