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Water & Beer making it easier for Ontario craft brewers to move forward naturally

Ontario’s craft brewers are applauding a new online resource to help them manage water resources more efficiently as they continue to build on the industry’s booming homegrown success.

Water & Beer, a portal created by the BLOOM Centre for Sustainability, on the ins, outs and in-betweens of water use in craft breweries, was launched Wednesday at Steam Whistle Brewing in Toronto.

“This is a great leap forward,” said Sybil Taylor from her office at Steam Whistle, one of Ontario’s leaders in sustainability and conservation. “BLOOM’s detailed analysis of the ways water is consumed and expelled within the beer making process provides the opportunity to reduce the amount of water we as an industry are consuming and to positively impact the quality of wastewater generated.”

Ontario craft brewers are riding a wave of unprecedented popularity in Ontario. Consumers tap into the variety of great tastes while also appreciating the all-natural alliance between clean water and good beer.

“People who drink craft beer are environmentally aware,” said Mario Bourgeois of Cassels Brewery in Eastern Ontario. “And when people know we are taking steps to improve our water and resource management practices and help the environment that is well received by everyone.”

Water is integral to craft beer production – coming in, going out and everywhere in between.

Ideally, brewers would use four litres of water or less per litre of beer. That ratio now is often 8 – 10 liters per beer, and in some case even higher. Water is the main ingredient in beer, but it’s also used to clean equipment, the facility and packaging materials. And any water not going into the product is going down the drain.

Wastewater, in effect, is clean water with stuff in it.

“They’ve told us they want clean and simple solutions to their water management challenges but until now they weren’t really sure where to turn,” said Michael Fagan, senior vice-present of BLOOM. “Our Water & Beer online resource is designed to make it easier for craft brewers to be good neighbours and water stewards.”

The rapid growth of the craft beer sector is putting increased pressure on municipal water infrastructure systems. As a result, the costs to use water and dispose of wastewater are also rising. The association representing craft brewers in the province sees great merit in putting improvement opportunities in trusted third-party hands.

“We are pleased to partner with BLOOM on Water & Beer,” said John Hay, president, Ontario Craft Brewers. “Craft brewers have great respect for the role and importance of water in all of their products and processes. Stewardship of this valuable resource is key to our industry’s sustainability and future growth.”

The OCB estimates the broader economic impact of small brewers at $600 million annually. With approximately 130 craft breweries and 40 contract breweries now operating in Ontario, the industry employs over 1,400 Ontarians in direct brewery jobs. In Toronto alone, dozens of breweries and brew pubs are serving up homegrown ales and lagers, with many more planning to turn on the taps in the near future.

Toronto councilor Mike Layton wants to market his city as a craft beer capital and major tourism attraction. He said his proposed ‘Toronto Cask Force’ will foster “the booming craft beer industry” in Toronto.

“Toronto craft beer depends on the water of the Great Lakes and respecting that is a vital part of the process,” Layton said.

Every little step makes a difference, said Bourgeois, who is currently collaborating with BLOOM on a pilot project to develop and showcase what an integrated water management solution would look like in smaller craft beer operations.

“It’s better to be on the leading edge than trailing behind,” said Bourgeois. “Years from now terms like sustainability won’t exist because that will be part of the culture and what we all do across the board.”

Water & Beer has received funding support from Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. BLOOM president Kevin Jones calls it a win-win for everyone.

“It’s incredibly satisfying to work with this ‘collective we’ of craft brewers, clean water technology and service providers and government agencies all across the province,” says Jones. “You have to tip your hat to the OCB and its members for their remarkable success over the past few years – the jobs, the contributions to communities and, of course, the beer itself. We couldn’t be happier to assist them moving forward.”

“Brewers will get a lot of use out of Water & Beer,” said Sam Corbeil of Sawdust City Brewing in Gravenhurst. “A resource that educates us on things we might not know about when it comes to water management – and lets us improve brewery operations – will be very important to a lot of people.”

Geordan Saunders of the Napanee Beer Company, one of Ontario’s newest breweries, agreed.

“To be able go to one place for that information and to learn more about the responsible use of water,” said Saunders. “That will be invaluable.”


BLOOM Centre for Sustainability. 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 @BloomCentre and on Facebook.

Ontario Craf Brewers
Ontario Craft Brewers. Real People. Real Craft Beer.
Ontario Craft Brewers is an association dedicated to making great tasting, high quality beer in Ontario. Ontario Craft Brewers brew their beers locally using fresh, all natural ingredients in communities throughout Ontario. Craft beer is the fastest growing segment within the LCBO’s beer category. The OCB’s long term vision is to have at least one brewery in every city and town in the province and to make Ontario a North American centre of excellence for craft brewing. Follow the OCB on Twitter @OntCraftBrewers and on Facebook.