News Feature | March 19, 2018

Water Contamination Could Put Beer At Risk

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

Dangers to the water supply are not just bad for water utilities. They also pose a risk to another vital resource: beer.

As The Journal-News put it in a recent report, dangers to Ohio’s water supply “could impact [the] beer supply.”

The article focused on a pale lager known as Milwaukee's Best, which is made by the Miller Brewing Company. Ad Age says the beer is sometimes known as “the beast.” The piece highlighted the importance of the water supply in Dayton, OH, for making this beer.

“That brand and some of the other most popular suds in America are made from the water flowing beneath [Dayton],” The Journal-News reported. “MillerCoors, which has a brewing facility outside Trenton in Butler County, is among the largest water users in the Miami Valley region.”

A spokesperson stated, per the report: “The availability of clean, high-quality water is critical to MillerCoors and the Trenton community. The water quality from the brewery’s production wells is monitored 24 hours a day and seven days a week.”

The need for clean water is not the only water challenge for brewers. They also face the challenge of producing large volumes of wastewater. Breweries and other industrial beverage companies face a dilemma: They are major water users, and they also incur major wastewater costs. Some companies are trying to streamline the process by cutting out the middleman, treating their own wastewater.

Deschutes Brewery in Bend, OR, is trying that approach. The company says it prides itself for using environmentally-friendly practices, including restoring “one billion gallons of water into the Deschutes River every year to offset what we use to brew our...tasty beer.”

Still, it was cost advantages that prompted the brewery to consider treating its own waste.

“Until now, the brewery has relied on a few methods to dispose of the approximately 100,000 gallons of wastewater the brewing process involves on a daily basis, including paying for the municipal facility to treat the water and shipping so-called high strength wastewater (that which includes yeast or even rejected beer) to farmers who use the nutrient-rich liquid to aid their crop growth,” Food & Wine reported.