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It’s no secret that brewers require a lot of water to craft the beers we love to drink. After all, water is the main ingredient.
What might surprise beer enthusiasts is the huge amount of water that’s required to create even a drop of the delicious liquid, as well as the wastewater that is left over from the manufacturing and bottling process.
To produce one litre of beer, breweries can require between six to eight litres of water. At less efficient breweries, this ratio can rise even higher.
Australia’s thriving craft beer industry has seen demand for craft beer escalate over the last ten years, and with it, demand for industrial levels of water required to produce brews has never been greater.
“We really cherish the water we have here and want to be great stewards locally and in the industry” says James Perrin, Stone & Wood Brewing Co’s Sustainability Manager.
“We’re very conscious of our water use, not just the volume, but also where it comes from. Of course, being a water-efficient brewer is important too.”
Byron Bay’s Stone & Wood Brewing Co has been investing in sustainable manufacturing techniques and procedures for the past ten years to reduce their breweries environmental footprint.
When it comes to water conservation and usage, their water to beer ratio is only four litres of water for every litre of beer, which is close to best-in-class for craft breweries globally.
“Over the years we’ve implemented projects to reduce and reuse water. Some of these include capturing water from our bottle rinser and piping it to our refrigeration cooling tower, installing ultra-filtration and reverse osmosis systems to recover wastewater, installation of clean-in-place sets to recover cleaning liquids and even biologically treating wastewater onsite before discharging it to the local council, meaning our footprint in our community is significantly reduced.”
“Water is a vital resource for the economic, social and environmental wellness of the communities we love” says Kiera Murphy, 4 Pines Brewing Company Sustainability Policy & Planning Manager.
“Continuous improvements and innovation is key. We’re always investigating how we can source water from more sustainable sources, reuse more water on site, and even investigate the use of alternative raw materials that are more drought resistant.”
Globally, sustainable beer production research is on the rise with the University of Nottingham investing £2 million in a state of the art research brewing facility to identify and implement new technologies for the brewing industry. The researchers hope to identify new technologies to reduce the energy and resources required in the brewing process.
Breweries in drought affected areas of the USA, particularly California, have already seen a major shift in production as local regulators begin restricting water usage and wastage and similar measures are beginning to be seen in Australia.
“Breweries work really hard to source the best hops and malt ingredients they can, and water should be no different” says Perrin.
“When breweries treat this resource with respect and try to utilise every drop, they brew better products, for less money, in a more sustainable way.”
About the author: Tomas Zagoda writes as a correspondent for the International WaterCentre, charged with exploring water challenges and the ways these challenges are managed around the world. You can follow him @TomasZagoda