In 2001 the hipsters of Portland planted the seed for a fascination with PBR that quickly spread nation-wide. So what state could be better qualified to provide us with a beer made from actual human urine? While it won’t be hitting the market anytime soon — due to regulations and all — Clean Water Services has asked the Oregon Brew Crew to turn their high-purity, drinkable sewage water into a refreshing craft beer.
Clean Water Services is a water management utility based in Hillsboro, Oregon, and they claim to have developed an advanced treatment process that will turn waste water into safe drinking water. If this idea sounds familiar, it’s likely because you’ve seen Bill Gates in the media recently drinking water made from sewage. The Gates Foundation is backing a Washington-based company who have developed their own treatment process.
These treatment systems, as icky as they may sound, are a serious deal; over 2.5 billion people lack access to safe sanitation, and one in nine people lack access to safe drinking water. According to water.org, 840,000 people die each year as a result of water-related illnesses. If one can successfully, and cheaply treat waste water to create safe drinking water, then public health could be greatly advanced. Then we have the drought conditions on the West Coast and Australia—what better way to handle a water shortage than by recycling it?
But back to the beer. Clean Water Services wants to show off their treatment process, and that’s why they’ve approached the Oregon Brew Crew, who are a group of pretty advanced home brewers. At present Oregon isn’t wild about the idea of distributing urine-based beer in the state. According to NPR, “The Oregon Health Authority has approved the company’s request for the beer project. But the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission will also have to sign off on it before anyone serves a beer made from recycled sewage.”
So if the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission signs off AND the state’s Recycled Water Reuse Plan is amended, then Oregonians could see urine-based beer served at events nearby. But until then Clean Water Services is quite happy to have started the conversation. Speaking to NPR, spokesperson Mark Jeffers explained,”(w)e want to start having this conversation now before we get into the drought situation that California and Texas and Australia have gotten into, so we can get the rules and safeguards in place that will allow greater use of this resource.”