“Save water, drink beer.” Country music fans know that motto well. Few things rival the joy of drinking an ice cold beer any time of the year. The rich, aromatic flavors in an ice cold glass can warm you up on a winter night or offset the hot, dry summer air. Californians know this all too well and pride themselves on their beer; the Golden State is home to over 500 microbreweries alone.

 

Sadly, in the face of severe drought and mandatory water restrictions, some California microbreweries may soon face serious hardship.

 

Like most in the state, the microbreweries have been subjected to new regulations on how much water they can consume. The problem is that brewing beer requires an obscene amount of the stuff. Every step of the brewing process involves water, taking roughly four to seven gallons to produce one gallon of beer.

Illustrated math equation to demonstrate the ingredients of beer

The foundational ingredients to beer: barley, hops, yeast, and WATER (homebrewmanual.com)

Some of the bigger microbreweries — Lagunitas and Sierra Nevada, for instance — have decided to open facilities in the eastern portion of the country, with abundant water sources more readily available. For smaller breweries, like Northern California’s Bear Republic Brewing Company — which has historically relied on the diminishing resources of the local Russian River — innovation has become just as important as conservation.

 

The technology that exists recycles used water; but many areas of the state currently lack the necessary treatment plants to incorporate it. Aside from that, many members of the public have already shown certain levels of uncertainty about the notion of drinking sewage water. In an interview with NBC, Stanford hydrologist Janny Choy maintained that “public perceptions” are the biggest hurdle to that particular process.

 

Other brewers have opted to dig wells and utilize ground water in their process. When asked about the process by NPR, Bear Republic brewer Jeremy Marshall explained that “a beer that might normally taste crisp and refreshing could have an astringent taste — kind of planky, like Popsicle sticks” if brewed with groundwater. Microbreweries build themselves on the artisanal quality of their product and take serious pride in their work.

 

While most certainly self-serving, these methods also create phenomenal PR opportunities. By choosing to do nothing, they could appear wasteful and stubborn. By taking action, the breweries tell their consumers that they are cognizant of this statewide problem, and acting responsibly to deal with it.

 

Would you drink beer made with recycled water? How should microbreweries in California adapt to the drought? Let’s talk here or find me on Twitter @connerws