Beer is approximately 95% water, but the brewing process also consumes large amounts of water. Water is often filtered before use and can become very resource intensive without proper regulation. Water is not only used for the beer, but also for packaging, utilities, and cleaning. As periods of drought fluctuate throughout the United States it becomes more important to use our water supply in a sustainable manner to ensure the success of breweries for years to come.
Along with saving money by using less water, wastewater disposal fees also decrease. A simple cost/ benefit analysis can indicate the importance of decreasing water usage. Employee knowledge is the first line of defense. Employees should be encouraged to use less water whenever possible by periodically checking for leaks, dripping faucets, turning off water when not in use, and using sustainable cleaning methods. Community ties are very important to the brewing community and can be strengthened by partnering with local organizations who focus on water resource conservation efforts. Breweries in Iowa are fortunate due to the low cost of water in comparison to other states more influenced by drought and large populations, but water also requires large amounts of energy to be moved from one location to another. When these energy costs are added onto the initial cost of the water it becomes pertinent to decrease water usage.
Data collection is an excellent tool in becoming more aware of how much water your brewery uses. Individual water meters for specific locations in the brewery such as brewhouse, cellars, packaging, and utilities are optimal, but are not necessary. Pulse output mechanical meters can be purchased for around $100 and attached to hoses in the brewhouse as an initial start to become more aware of how much water is actually being used in the brewhouse alone.
Operating procedures should always be questioned in order to prevent unsustainable habits. Ask yourself if the process is necessary and if the process could be done without water, or with lower quality water. Simple changes can also be easily implemented. While Iowa does not currently offer rebates for specific water saving devices, aerators on faucets, reusing water, turning off faucets when not in use, installing urinals, and reducing the water to beer ratio can all be employed to reduce water usage in breweries.