Almost every article written about water in the western United State includes the quote “Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting” and for good reason. Out here, in the Sonoran Desert, there’s a lot of demand for water but not the healthy supply that we need. And ya know, beer is pretty darn dependent on a healthy water supply. Going forward, our desert cities/towns may have to turn to less than traditional means to get our much-needed H2O.
How about reclaimed wastewater?
Let me guess, the idea grosses you out? Well a couple years ago, the Arizona Pure Water Challenge was created to show that it’s a viable avenue for water supply and not as disgusting as one might think.
The idea: hold a beer competition of only beers made with reclaimed wastewater.
The outcome: greatness
Don’t worry now, the reclaimed wastewater water goes through an intense purification process before it’s used for brewing or drinking. This graphic from the Pure Water folks explains it pretty well:
See, not so bad after all? The water is actually cleaner than your tap water.
Here’s how the whole thing went down: The Pure Water Challenge dropped off reclaimed water at 26 different Arizona breweries and the breweries did what they do best, make beer. The a panel of judges chose winners who were announced at the WaterReuse Symposium in Phoenix on September 10th, 2017.
I attended the Symposium as a representative of Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. and I loved every second of it. The event felt like a cross between an indoor beer festival and a water policy conference. What more could you want?
Brewers and water policy experts mingled and sipped brews made from reclaimed water. I don’t think that a single person in the room could tell you the difference between a beer made with the purified wastewater and one that was not.
Without a doubt in my mind, this challenge proved that beer made with reclaimed/purified wastewater can be done and with incredible results. And living in this drought-stricken, pool loving desert city, this may very well be our craft beer future.
Now, if you’re looking to try one of these “reclaimed wastewater brews,” you are in luck! When Wanderlust Brewing Co. taped their Pure Water Tripel, they stashed some away in some Chardonnay barrels. I managed to snag one at the always excellent Arcadia Premium in Phoenix.
That leaves us with the big question… will the general public accept beer made with purified wastewater? Well, the Double IPA Arizona Wilderness made for the competition sold like wildfire, the kegs were emptied in only a couple days. That’s all the proof I need; good beer plus clever marketing and the public will come around!