Half Moon Bay Brewing Company has done the unthinkable and created a new craft beer using wastewater from the sinks and showers of California residents!
The new brew was spearheaded by Russ Drinker, an architect and trustee for Sustainable Silicon Valley, who saw an opportunity to repurpose sewage water during a time of severe drought in the state of California. “I was surprised and a little angry that California does not recycle its water, especially in the context of this drought,” Drinker told SF Gate. “To me, it was the most obvious source of water, and once you have it, it is a really valuable asset.”
Drinker then partnered with Lenny Mendonca, owner of Half Moon Bay Brewing Company to use recycled gray water (that is, wastewater that comes from sinks, showers, and washing machines) to create a new craft beer. In order to source their gray water, Drinker and Mendonca employed NASA, which has long used recycled urine in space.
During a blind taste test last October, samples of the brewery’s Tunnel Vision IPA made with recycled water were given at an urban sustainability conference in the Bay Area. Attendees of the conference couldn’t tell the difference between which IPA was made with regular water, and which was made with recycled water.
“I thought it tasted great. It was delicious,” said beer judge Jennifer Biesty, chef and owner of a Mediterranean-style restaurant in Oakland. Biesty went on to say that if it were legal, she would happily serve gray water beer in her restaurant.
In California, it’s currently illegal to recycle wastewater and send it directly through the tap for merchants to sell products. However, Drinker and Mendonca are hoping their gray water beer will capture the attention of legislation and shed light on the different ways water can be conserved in the US, potentially saving hundreds of billions of gallons of water annually.
Mendonca’s gray water beer is currently only available for free tastings; however, he hopes that commercializing the brew will be an option for the future.
“This is the product [where] people think that water is the most important ingredient,” said Mendonca. “So if I can demonstrate to people that not only is [gray water beer] good, but it’s great, then why wouldn’t you use that water for everything else?”