You probably must have seen a huge variety of beers in the market made from a variety of different ingredients but this beer has an ingredient you would’ve never thought of- Shower water. This beer is the Epic OneWater Brew whose speciality is that it is made of recycled shower water from a 40-storey luxury apartment building in San Francisco. The water is sent for a series of treatment including microfiltration and ultraviolet light. The beer is a Kölsch-style ale- a crisp, light-bodied drink originating from Germany. But it’s not for sale, as regulations prohibit the use of recycled wastewater in commercial beverages. At least for now.
“Buildings globally use 14% of all potable water,” says Aaron Tartakovsky, CEO and co-founder of Epic Cleantec, the San Francisco-based water treatment company that made the beer in collaboration with a local brewery. “Almost no buildings reuse that water that’s what we’re trying to change.”
“We wanted to do something fun that was going to be an engaging tool to talk to people, to get them excited, but also that showcased the untapped potential of water reuse,” said Aaron Tartakovsky. On why they opted for a kölsch, he said, “We wanted to choose a beer that was going to be sort of more universally liked versus some of the more craft beers, like an IPA, that some people like, some people don’t.”
On being asked whether the drinkers approved of the brew, “I think a lot of people, initially and understandably, were skeptical about the project or were hesitant to try it, but I would say 99% who came in feeling a little bit apprehensive, once they tried it, got really excited,” Tartakovsky said. In fact, making beer with Epic’s water, whose safety is tested in an outside lab as well as onsite comes with a perk. “A lot of times at a brewery, you turn on the tap and whatever water you get, that’s what you brew with. In our case, we have so much control over the treatment process that we were actually able to treat to tweak some of the steps to give the brewers a blank canvas.”
To use the water from the building, Epic Cleantec has equipped the building with a system which will send the water for recycling and treatment instead of the sewer. This system recycles about 95% of the blackwater which comes from toilets and grey water which comes from washing machines, bathtubs and showers. It does so by first using biological treatment to remove organic matter, then microfiltration via membranes just 0.04 microns thick and finally disinfection by ultraviolet light and chlorine, which makes the water safe for reuse in non-potable applications like toilet and urinal flushing, irrigation and laundry. The systeminstalled in Fifteen Fifty is designed to recycle 7,500 gallons of water per day, or up to 2.75 million gallons per year.
“What we’ve done is just take a lot of existing principles in the wastewater world and design it for single buildings instead,” Tartakovsky said. “We do for water what solar did for energy, which is moving away from a sole reliance on large, centralized infrastructure.” “We’re going into these buildings, which globally use 14% of all water, and almost none of them reuse that water. And we are helping these recycling projects reuse up to 95% of their water,” Tartakovsky said.
Epic Cleantec also says that the system has other benefits such as the recovered heat from the wastewater can be used to pre-heat domestic hot water, cutting heating costs, and the organic matter in the wastewater can be used to produce natural soil products, usable in landscaping, gardens or parks.