Craft beer makers are known for experimenting with some strange brewing ingredients, to create everything from bacon and maple syrup-flavored ale to stout brewed with oysters. But now a group of home brewers wants to use another controversial ingredient to make beer: recycled sewage water
The idea began after Clean Water Services of Hillsboro in Oregon, which is west of Portland, developed an advanced treatment process that turns sewage into clean drinking water. The company has a “high-purity” system and wants to show it off to the Portland area, where it operates four wastewater treatment plants, by turning it into beer.
The state won’t allow anyone to drink the water just yet, but Clean Water Services has asked for permission to give the recycled water to the Oregon Brew Crew. The group would then use the water in the making of beer to serve at their home brew events; they would not be selling it in breweries.
So far, the water has been approved for this use by the Oregon Health Authority; the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission has yet to give their permission, but will host a public hearing on the proposal in Portland on Feb. 12.
If the proposal is approved, Clean Water Services will still have to wait on approval from the state. The Recycled Water Reuse Plan will also need to be amended to include this use for purified wastewater.
Clean Water Services spokesman Mark Jockers said that the company’s high-purity water treatment for sewage meets or exceeds all clean drinking water standards.
The company uses three different methods: ultra-filtration of the water through very small pores, reverse osmosis to pass the water through a membrane that blocks chemicals, and enhanced oxidation of the water with ultraviolet light and an oxidizing chemical to break down contaminants.
This isn’t the first time Clean Water Services has used one of their processes for beer: last year, the company held a brewing competition for beer made with about 30% purified wastewater.
But Jockers said the main idea was to open a dialogue about where public water comes from. “There’s no better way to start a conversation than over a beer,” he said.