Waste not: This rare beer was made from Berlin's reused toilet water
In my hand, I'm holding a bottle of very rare beer, normally right up my alley, but this beer is made from that waste water.
So how did all of that and this terrible smell, get into this bottle?
And does it taste any good?
We're going to find out.
Waste water in bulk smells even worse than you might imagine it.
It has to go somewhere and every city has it abundance.
As fresh water becomes more scarce it could prove valuable resource.
One of the main treatment plant in Berlin Germany partnered with a tech company called Xylem to make beer out of recycled water.
So I went to the facility to take a look.
We treat the waste water of 1.3 million inhabitants.
So it's about 150,000 cubic meter per day.
If that sounds like a lot, it's because of this.
The facility is huge and the amount of waste water was pretty overwhelming.
The first part of the process, the smelliest part involves this terrible looking sludge.
It's pretty old-fashioned, but still pretty effective.
The baceteria sludge, where we areate, so we put oxygen in the water.
With this process we are able to remove 97% of all the compounds in the wastewater and we get a very good quality to discharge of water and the surface water.
97% is pretty close, and that works for irrigation, but it's definitely not safe to drink at that point.
Then increased amount of chemical waste in water has made cleaning it even tricky, enters Xylem.
They partnered with the plant and devotes tech to take water across the finish line.
Their goal is to help cities diversify their water sources by making recycled water usable.
We have scarcity all over the world and even then regions like
Europe, or especially Germany, where you think there is an abundance of water, that we see now face heatwaves, have groundwater levels sinking.
And we wanted to show people in the world that we are able, that there's a technology
To reuse water that we can recycle wastewater.
So wherever there are people in cities you have wastewater on hand and this is a resource you can basically use and drink.
But to be able to drink it, xylitol and the water treatment plant needed specialized equipment to take care of that last 3%
The wastewater plant gets most pollutants out using their traditional biological processes.
But especially as the chemical waste and water increases, they needed high tech equipment to break down waste on a molecular level.
When we have these processes Concluded with a sedimentated water, it's clear water, we put that clear water in the ozone reactor because we have to remove trace organics.
We use more medicine, we use a lot of chemicals we cannot remove with a biological process, and we can put that in the ozone reactor and it breaks These synthetic compounds in small pieces, and these small pieces we can fuel for [UNKNOWN] biologically on filters, yeah on activated carbon filters and after that we are even able to re-use the water in further steps to bring it back to the drinking water pros.
So one of the things that reuse brew is trying to address is the negative public perception around using recycled water to drink.
I understand the hesitation.
I'm in one of Berlin's wastewater treatment plants, and it smells like a million people just took a ****
Right next to me, cuz it's actually what happened.
I'm surrounded by a million people's ****.
That mental barrier is actually a bigger problem for [UNKNOWN] than the science.
It's hard to get over the idea that you're drinking someone else's bodily fluids.
The smell really doesn't help.
But again, given the abundance of waste water this process makes sense and it could become necessary.
After all, all water on the birth has been used before in some capacity.
We don't consume water that is going back into the next water cycle an it's important to treat the water to a high standard.
So that we are able to reuse it.
Yeah, we have the indirect reuse.
We have the direct reuse and the scarcity.
The water scarcity is all over the world.
It's also hitting Germany.
And it will be a big problem to have enough water for large city.
And so we take care to bring the border back into the nature.
And to have [UNKNOWN] safe for the new 100 years.
Here's where the beer comes in.
Given the potential importance of recycled water and the large barrier of public perception, [UNKNOWN] used the water to create a beer as a fun project meant to raise public awareness.
In Germany especially, beer is important to the culture, so they had to get it right We have really hard German beer laws, yes the purification law Deutsches Reinheitsgebot.
But this law only asked for water, for clean water.
It doesn't say that needs to be some water from the well or some spring water.
It just needs Clean water and we have really perfectly analytical purified water and great quality drinking quality and we use this to provide for the reuse group.
I was gonna try Reuse Brew out there, but I didn't want the smell interfering with the taste and I wanna give this thing an honest taste test.
So here we go, the last bottle of Reuse Brew.
And it smells good.
It's a German alt beer.
It's essentially a brown ale.
I'm gonna pour off a bit.
Yeah and I actually really like the nose.
The nose is multi, and it smells like I would expect of an alt beer or brown ale.
So here we go.
Reuse Brew, bottoms up.
It's a good beer.
I I like sort of the complexity, the carbonation.
The malt balances really nice.
Honestly, if you were to just serve this to me in a bar as an Altbier, I wouldn't question it and I would give a nice tip like this is a fine craft beer.
I would have no idea of the original source.
It tastes good.
You know you have another step.
So yeah, in terms of the beer itself, it's complex and interesting.
It strikes me as a similar to other or brown ales I've had and it has a smooth middle, it has a nice rounded finish and the malt characteristics are predominant but well balanced.
With a little bit of hops, a little bit of carbonation.
And honestly, I like this beer and I will probably drink this whole bottle.
So again, I like this beer.
I'd have it in a bar, being a brown ale is sort of apropos and was throwing me off mentally a little bit, but if I didn't know the context I wouldn't suspect anything.
I actually quite like this beer, and it certainly does not taste like ****.
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