Drinking an ice-cold beer is one thing, but drinking beer that is made from sewage water is quite another. Some would even say it seems disgusting just to think about it.
However, believe it or not, in Singapore there’s a local brewery that has received the nod from many beer lovers. The brewery, Brewerkz, introduced a special beer called NEWBrew, which is made from recycled toilet water.
The beverage was first introduced at a water conference in 2018 and it hit the shelves in April this year.
The beer was made in collaboration with the country’s national water agency. NEWBrew uses NEWater, which is a brand of drinking water in Singapore recycled from sewage water. This initiative was done to promote the importance of sustainability and recycling.
According to an article written by Jhalak Jain on The Quint World, due to limited sources of fresh water, Singapore has adapted water recycling technology that treats sewage water and turns it into drinking water.
“The sewage water is disinfected and treated with UV rays and is passed through various stages of treatment before it turns into potable water. When it comes to recycled water, there is still a stigma attached to it and many people don’t prefer using it. However, in recent years, water treatment has emerged as a viable solution as the problem of water shortage is increasing,” Jain wrote.
How does it taste?
Those who have tried the beverage said they couldn’t taste the difference between an ordinary beer and NEWBrew. “I seriously couldn’t tell this was made of toilet water,” said Chew Wei Lian, who had purchased the beer from a supermarket to try after hearing about it.
“I don’t mind having it if it was in the fridge. I mean, it tastes just like beer, and I like beer,” he said.
Mitch Gribov, Brewerkz’s head brewer, said NEWater perfectly suits brewing because it tastes neutral. “The mineral profile of water plays a key role in chemical reactions during brewing,” he said.
Reusing sewage water not so new
According to an article by the Hindustan Times the idea of processing sewage into drinking water, once largely resisted, has been gaining support in the past decade as the world’s supply of fresh water is increasingly under stress.
“The World Wildlife Fund estimates 2.7 billion people find water scarce for at least one month a year. Advanced economies such as Israel and Singapore that have limited fresh water resources have already incorporated the technology into their supplies. Cities such as Los Angeles and London are examining plans to follow suit,” read the article.
Singapore’s NEWater is made by disinfecting sewage with ultraviolet light and passing the liquid through advanced membranes to remove contaminant particles.
“Key to expanding the technology is to persuade the public that, once the water has been processed, it’s just water.”
What about Mzansi?
Meanwhile, South Africa has resorted to algae to treat wastewater in the country, something which they hope will solve water shortages in the country.
One such instance is the Zaalklapspruit wetland system, some 75km from the Loskop Dam on the Olifants River in Mpumalanga. Authorities were spurred into action after a large number of crocodiles, terrapins and fish died in the mid-2000s in the dam.
According to Down To Earth, the reason for the die-off was acid mine drainage, untreated sewage, and industrial and agricultural pollution, which severely impacted the water quality.
Paul Oberholster, formerly of South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and currently director of the Centre for Environmental Management at the University of the Free State, said the major sources of acid mine drainage spills in the area were not necessarily those mines currently in operation, but rather the abandoned ones that were mined from the 1930s.
Oberholster and his team worked out a solution, explains Down To Earth. They began work in 2012 to “rehabilitate” Zaalklapspruit. They reintroduced water plants including algae. A channel through the middle of the wetland was removed, as were ridges and furrows that impacted water flow.
“We ‘ecologically engineered’ the wetland and by adding concrete structures, increased its 134 hectares with another 9 hectares,” Oberholster said.
And with South Africa’s water supply in provinces such as the Eastern and Northern Cape under pressure due to drought, sewage water might just be the answer. And your next brew might even be made from recycled water.
Cold beer, anyone?
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