Making beer from waste water

Stone & Wood marks International World Water Day

World Water Day slipped by largely unnoticed on Sunday 22 March, as media was pretty focussed on something else. But if there were ever a time for a good news story it’s now, and if that good news story includes locally-brewed beer then I don’t know about you, but I’m all ears.

Indie brewery Stone & Wood have brewed a beer using purified wastewater in the hopes of promoting recycling water and water efficiency, which is tied to the theme of this year’s International World Water Day.

The one-off, very limited pilot batch beer, named Beer-Water beer’ was launched on 22 March and available from the brewery’s tasting room. Sadly, the Tasting Room, like others around the country was temporarily closed soon after. It’s a 4.7% summer ale brewed from wastewater generated at Stone & Wood’s main production facility in Murwillumbah.

The wastewater – that is, the excess water used in the brewing process that wasn’t turned into beer – used to brew Beer-Water Beer has been processed through Stone & Wood’s ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis (UFRO) system.

Installed early 2018, the UFRO system turns brewery wastewater into perfectly usable water by stripping out all impurities, turning the hazy beige wastewater into crystal clear H20.

Currently, Stone & Wood only use this reclaimed water for utilities and cleaning at their Murwillumbah brewery, but, according to their Sustainability Manager James Perrin, there’s no reason other than stigma that stops them brewing with it.

“All water is essentially recycled in one way or another, and in many places around the world sewerage is treated and recycled back into, or upstream of, the drinking supply,” James said. “If done properly, it is completely safe and harmless.”

“In Australia, we have a history of rejecting recycled water initiatives, yet we are one of the driest places on Earth. The water that comes out of the reverse osmosis process is as pure as you can get – great for brewing!”

James said the key to normalising the idea of recycled water is changing attitudes.

“My hope is that by using perfectly good recycled water in this beer, it will start to change people’s perspectives on what sustainable water management could look like,” he said.

When the Stone & Wood Tasting Room opens, you’ll be amongst the first to know. And I’m sure you’ll join us in toasting good water management with a pint of Beer-Water Beer when you do drop in.

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