Raise a glass… for water!
People have been brewing beer for a long time. The general consensus among archeologists was that beer, and the knowledge to produce it, has been around for about 5,000 years. I say ‘was’ because last month in Israel, researchers found the remnants of beer brewing activities in a cave near Haifa that date back 13,000 years. That’s pretty significant because it means that at essentially the same time humans were moving from hunter/gatherer groups towards more complex types of society, they had already figured out how to make beer. Fast-forward to the present and we can see what the beer industry has become. Annual worldwide beer sales total more than $660 billion (US). The world’s most popular brand, Snow, sold 101.2 million hectoliters of beer in 2018 (that was more than double the amount of second place Budweiser, by the way).
That much beer requires a tremendous amount of water. Typically, the brewing process uses 5 or 6 litres of water to produce 1 litre of beer. If you factor in the water used to grow beer’s key ingredients; hops, malt and grains, that number jumps to between 11 and 40 litres per litre of beer. With water scarcity becoming a larger issue, beer producers are looking for ways to lower that number.
Three examples of breweries contributing in water conservation efforts:
Full Sail Brewing – By fine-tuning their beer making process and investing in new filtration technology, this Oregon craft brewery has managed to lower their water/beer ratio to around 3 to 1. They’ve also installed a hot water recovery system and updated their cooling equipment to further lower their overall water footprint.
MillerCoors – One of the world’s largest brewers went directly to the farmers that were supplying the grain that went into the company’s products. In partnership with The Nature Conservancy, MillerCoors purchased new equipment that enabled barley farmers to reduce water usage by 550 million gallons.
Reuse Brew – The city of Berlin and water technology company Xylem recently partnered to produce Reuse Brew, a beer made using Berlin’s municipal wastewater. While this instance of reclaimed water being used to make beer was an experiment, the technology to clean and repurpose sewage is advancing. Using recycled wastewater to make beer may become common practice for future brewers.
Here at LuminUltra, whether it’s the brewing industry or another business where water quality is crucial, we’re proud to offer industry leading microbiological testing equipment and support. We’re focused on giving our clients the tools to make well informed decisions about their water.