Brewery Tanks

Craft Brewing and the Ins, Outs and In-Betweens of Sustainable Water Use

Water is one of the most essential elements on Earth. Without it there would be no life.

Water is also the core ingredient in craft brewing. Without it there would be no beer.

Ontario craft brewers who pride themselves on making all natural beers without additives or preservatives understand the value of good clean water. They also recognize the importance of being environmental stewards and adopting sustainable water use practices within their operations.

Water use and wastewater management can present craft brewers with environmental and economic challenges. Successful solutions to those challenges start with an understanding of the Ins, Outs and In-Betweens of good water management.

The Ins

That’s the volume of water entering the brewery to make beer, and to wash and clean the equipment and floors. The key here is to use only what’s needed. Reduce, reuse and recycle.

The Outs

Wastewater is measured in both volume and strength. Wastewater is clean water with stuff in it from the brewery operation. This includes spent grain, excess yeast and raw beer. A craft brewery can lose up to 10 per cent of its beer during production. That’s money down the drain along with the waste.

The In-Betweens

These are the various hotspots within the operations – like the brewhouse, the fermenter and the packaging lines – where water is used and where stuff enters the wastewater.

If a craft brewery discharges high-strength wastewater into their local municipal sewer system, it creates problems at their downstream facilities and higher costs to treat it. That increased burden on municipal wastewater treatment infrastructure comes with a price in the form of extra ‘surcharges’ to clean up the mess.

Water costs can add up. In fact, a craft brewery can pay for water up to three times:

  • On the way in – for the costs of fresh water volume entering the brewery.
  • On the way out – for the costs of wastewater volume leaving the brewery.
  • On the way out again – for the extra costs or surcharges for over-strength wastewater.

This graphic demonstrates how costs climb dramatically as the volume of water and over-strength wastewater goes up.

Potential Brewery Surcharges

Given how water-related costs can climb with growth, they can take a big bite out of a craft brewery’s bottom line.  Not to mention how water issues can damage the brewer’s brand in the community.

Michael Fagan, Senior VP of BLOOM, says improved water management practices begin when a craft brewer understands the Ins, Outs and In-Betweens of production and cleaning.

“If a craft brewery loses sight of this, they can spend valuable time and money applying band-aid and ‘end of pipe’ approaches to address the symptoms rather than fixing the problems upstream,” said Fagan. “By taking some progressive steps early, craft breweries can reduce operational headaches and a whole lot of pain later. It’s that clean and simple.”

That’s why BLOOM has developed a comprehensive online resource called Water & Beer to make it easier for brewers to solve water problems coming and going.

About Water & Beer: a practical online platform designed to help craft brewers better manage their water and ingredient use. Water & Beer is the ‘go to’ resource for craft brewers who recognize that water management is important for their business, their customers and their communities. BLOOM developed Water & Beer in collaboration with Ontario Craft Brewers, individual craft breweries, government agencies, and technology and solution providers – what BLOOM calls the Collective We.

About BLOOM: Making it Easier. Clean and Simple. BLOOM is a recognized and trusted authority on sustainability and resource management practices in Ontario. BLOOM works actively with Ontario industries to find practical and affordable business solutions that deliver economic, environmental and social benefits. Follow BLOOM on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.