Germany: Waste water beer is defying purity law

A German beer which is made from recycled waste water is currently triggering heated debates in a country which is known for its more than 500-year-old purity law for beer.

The new beer, dubbed Reuse Brew, was officially unveiled this Monday at the International Water Recovery and Recycling conference in Berlin, Germany. It was developed by water technology company Xylem, together with two Berlin-based water supply companies to highlight future possibilities for purified wastewater. "Our Reuse Brew is brewed according to all the rules of German brewing art and contains, in addition to recycled water, the best ingredients a craft beer needs," says Jan-Karl Nielebock, application manager at Xylem Services.

1000 bottles and several barrels, a total of four hectoliters, were brewed by the Herford-based company in Berlin - however, not for sale, but only for advertising purposes.

The German purity law for beer requires that 'nothing other than barley, hops and water be used' to produce beer. The importance of yeast was not known at the time and was added later. And for sure, the technology to reprocess waste water was also not known in 1516, the year when the Munich law was adopted across the entirety of Bavaria and later also Germany.

But beer from wastewater - is that the future? For Stephan Natz, the spokesman of the water supply companies, it's "more of a gag". "We want to show that it is at least technically possible." He also believes that beer from conventional water tastes better. In contrast to highly purified water, beer still contains many minerals as flavor carriers.

The idea to create beer from wastewater is not new. In March 2017, Stone Brewing from Escondido, California, launched Stone Full Circle Pale Ale, a beer made from brewing water which comes from recycled wastewater. The beer was made as part of the Pure Water San Diego program, which aims to supply one-third of San Diego’s water supply through recycled wastewater by 2035 (, 22.3.2017).

Other similar beers like were already launched before in Sweden and the Czech Republic.

"Even the technology for purifying the water is not new," says Natz. It is used in many parts of the world, especially in water scarcity areas in Africa. And also in space: "The astronauts of the ISS, for example, can only take 50 liters per capita into space and have to live on it for months".

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