It is reported that there are problems for the 450 craft brewers based in California as there is so little rain that they are worried not so much about draft but about drought. Along with the other residents, they have been subject to water restrictions and they are needing to find more and more creative ways to use the water they can get their hands on.
Peter Kruger, the Master Brewer at Bear Republic Brewing has said “Without water it’s pretty tough to make beer. Here’s a pretty good analogy, you turn the lights on at home, but there’s no power.”
He explained how brewers are used to having all the water they need and that they need a lot. The fact that there is not the amount that they require has come as a wake-up call and while many – including Bear Republic had been reducing the amount it needed for more than 15 years, after being told that it would cost them $200,000 to get more so they “…ratcheted down the ratio of water used to beer produced.”
Records have shown that this drought is the worst to be experienced since records began and a study has shown that over the last 10 years there has been 63 trillion gallons of water lost just in Western USA.
Fortunately for Bear they had been thinking ahead and just this month have announced that there are two new wells starting as a result of their partnership with the City of Cloverdale. The Public Works Director and City Engineer for the city of Cloverdale Craig Scott explains “The city hadn’t raised its water rate for seven years and didn’t have sufficient funds to go off and explore on its property. (Bear Republic) is on the hook to pay for it anyway, but the unique thing is they paid it in advance…without their participation, we’d just be getting started right now.”
Bear Republic are not stopping there as they are carrying out an audit into their own water usage and are looking for leaks, not over rinsing tanks and even watching the taps when they are washing. Kruger says that there is also the installation of a wastewater pre-treatment plant that will mean that it will be possible to recycle 40% of wastewater.
There are still concerns for next year and if it continues brewers may be on the move although the Californian market should survive. Kruger is hopeful for the future and ends by saying “People will vote with their dollars…I hope people will stop washing their cars before they stop drinking beer.”