Would You Drink ‘Sewage Beer’ from Sweden?

pu-rest-sewage-beer-sweden

It took a few decades, but most reasonably eco-conscious companies are doing their part to minimize waste, implement greener manufacturing practices, and use recycled materials where possible. One Swedish brewery is taking the latter to an extreme by using recycled water in the beer, resulting in, well, “sewage beer.” You might call it “crap beer.” To the Swedes, it’s bajsöl.

The project is the brainchild of a collaboration between Sweden’s Nya Carnegiebryggeriet (New Carnegie Brewery), parent company Carlsberg, and the Swedish Environmental Research Institute (IVL). For years, the IVL had been hard at work on state-of-the-art technology to clean and recycle wastewater, turning it into potable water. In their research, they saw the potential to mitigate — maybe even solve — the world’s clean drinking water problem. The IVL promises the resulting process to be cost-effective and energy-efficient. They quickly found, however, that the public couldn’t get past the concept of drinking “poo water.”

With that in mind, they sought out a collaborator to sway public perception, and Carlsberg was an obvious choice. The result is PU:REST beer, a straightforward, 4.8 percent pilsner brewed with organic hops, organic malt, and recycled wastewater. Head brewer Chris Thurgeson noted: “It was a no-brainer to brew PU:REST as an ecological and crystal clear pilsner since it’s a pure and ‘naked’ style of beer.”

The collaboration made sense as Carlsberg had already rolled out a new, company-wide “Together Toward Zero” initiative. The environmental program aims to slash the company’s water use in half by 2030. After “repackaging” the water in beer form as PU:REST, it seems the public was able to get their palates around the idea. No matter how crappy the beer is — the reviews are mixed — it’s hard not to mark this as a successful proof of concept.

New Carnegie Brewery isn’t the first to try their hand at using wastewater in their beer recipes. In 2017, Stone Brewing released a small batch ale at a promotional event in California. However, to date, it seems that no brewery has tried to sell such a beer to the masses.

PU:REST Pilsner debuted May 25 at New Carnegie Brewery’s restaurant in Stockholm. It will also be available in select Swedish liquor stores, restaurants, and festivals early next month. Sadly, craft beer lovers in the U.S. won’t be able to get their hands on a six-pack of sewage beer any time soon. At least, not without flying across the pond.

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