Brewers tasked with turning sewage into suds

Beer Made from Sewage Water Is a Real Thing

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Some companies boast of making beer with spring water from majestic mountains.

They won't be competing in the upcoming Pure Water Brew Challenge, in which an Oregon wastewater treatment operator has asked home brewers to make great-tasting beer from hops, barley, yeast and the key, not-so-secret ingredient: treated sewer water.

The point of the contest is not to find Portland's next trendy craft beer. Rather, it's an effort to get people talking about how a vital resource can be reused thanks to advanced water-filtration systems.

Check out the best places for local brews in each state:

50 places for local beer in 50 states
See Gallery
Brewers tasked with turning sewage into suds

Alabama: Avondale Brewing Company, Birmingham

Located in a former fire station, pharmacy, bank and brothel, the building now houses a taproom serving 16 beers.

Photo via Facebook

Alaska: Haines Brewing Company, Haines

Located where the movie White Fang was set, this brewery's Black Fang (an 8 percent ABV Russian Imperial Stout) has a delicious bite of coffee and cocoa.

Photo via Facebook

Arizona: Arizona Room, Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon Pilsner tastes better when swigged while staring out at the canyon itself.

Photo: Mladen Antonov, AFP/Getty

Arkansas: Stone's Throw Brewing, Little Rock

Its eight taps feature its own beers as well as other local ones. Food trucks also stop by regularly.

Photo via Facebook

Colorado: Vine Street Pub, Denver

The Java Porter made in house is delicious. But bring cash though, these hippies don't take credit.

Photo via Facebook

Connecticut: Firefly Hollow Brewery, Bristol

Toadstool Oat Stout. Toadstool Oat Stout. Toadstool Oat Stout.

Photo via Facebook

District of Columbia: Bier Baron Tavern

In the former home of D.C. landmark bar the Brickskeller, its 600 varieties of bottled beers include many local options, like DC Brau's The Citizen and The Public.

Photo via Facebook

Florida: A1A Ale Works, St. Augustine

Both the downstairs pub and upstairs restaurant offer a great atmosphere for drinking one of its beers, like the Bridge of Lions Brown Ale. The upstairs balcony has a beautiful view of the city, bridge and waterway.

Photo: David Osborn, Alamy

Georgia: SweetWater Brewing Company, Atlanta

Not only is SweetWater one of the best and most unique beers in the South, its microbrewery is also one of the best places to enjoy a beer. Take the tour and for just $10, you get six tasting tickets to try out the different beers -- plus you get to keep your pint glass. There's also live outdoor music a few times a week. Try the SweetWater Blue ale, which is "light-bodied with a hint of blueberries."

Photo via Facebook

Hawaii: Uncle George's Lounge, Volcano

Sip a Longboard Lager (or other Kona Brewing Co. beer) while you watch the orange glow of the Halemaumau Crater in Volcanoes National Park.

Photo credit: dolanh/Flickr

Idaho: Salmon River Brewery, McCall

One of the four flagships beers at this family-friendly brewery/restaurant near the resort town's lake, Udaho Gold, goes great with BBQ.

Photo via Facebook

Illinois: Signature Lounge, Chicago

This lounge on the 96th floor of the John Hancock building has a selection of local beer, including Goose Island and Two Brothers, and comes with an expansive local view too.

Photo via Facebook

Indiana: Sun King Brewing, Indianapolis

For a little local flavor, head to this craft brewery around lunch time on a Friday to sample its beers (especially the Sunlight Cream Ale) and chat up locals filling their growlers.

Photo via Facebook

Iowa: Peace Tree Brewing Company, Knoxville

The brewery's previous life as a Nash Rambler car dealership is commemorated in its Red Rambler Ale. It's deep red, malty and available all year long.

Photo via Facebook

Kansas: Wichita Brewing Company & Pizzeria, Wichita

Order a Valleyview Vanilla Porter, brewed on-site, either with a pizza or for dessert.

Photo via Facebook

Kentucky: Against the Grain, Louisville

Located at Louisville Slugger Field, home of the AAA Bats, AtG's beers stand out for their flavor and names. Citra Wet Ass Down, Judas Yeast and Pepperation H are home runs on both counts.

Photo: Josh Noel/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty

Louisiana: Abita, Abita Springs

These guys were doing it in Louisiana before craft beer was a thing. Great beer and a nice tasting room and pub less than an hour's drive from New Orleans.

Photo via Facebook

Maine: Allagash Brewing, Portland

These beers impress with their Belgian-style amazingness. Get a saison and take a tour of the Portland brewery, you won't be disappointed.

Photo via Facebook

Maryland: Alewife, Baltimore

The draft list at this beer den changes daily, with 40 drafts and 100 bottles that include a range of local crafts. It's a short walk from Camden Yards, so on game days the historic joint turns into a packed sports bar.

Photo credit: Joel Abroad/Flickr

Michigan: Atwater Brewery, Detroit

Located in the Rivertown district and housed in a 1919 factory warehouse, Atwater brews its own German-style lagers and American ales.

Photo via Facebook

Minnesota: Fulton, Minneapolis

Drink a Fulton on the brewery's patio in the cool North Loop hood. You can see Target Field and hear the roar of the crowd on game day.

Photo: Alamy

Mississippi: Taylor Grocery, Taylor

Just beyond Oxford, Taylor Grocery is a classic BYOB spot in the Ole Miss area. You can listen to live blues or bluegrass and drink a beer (from a plastic cup -- no cans) on the front porch while you wait to get a seat at the restaurant.

Photo: Mike Ransdell/Kansas City Star/MCT via Getty

Montana: Big Sky Brewing, Missoula

Its Moose Drool Brown Ale is one of the state's best-known exports.

Photo via Facebook

Nebraska: Nebraska Brewing Company, Papillion

Its Reserve Series are aged in barrels to add notes of Chardonnay, whiskey and brandy.

Photo via Facebook

Nevada: Great Basin Brewery, Reno

Nicknamed Icky, its Ichthyosaur India Pale Ale is anything but. (It's actually named after the state's official fossil.)

Photo via Facebook

New Hampshire: Smutty Nose, Portsmouth

These guys know how to please. Their pumpkin beer is one of the best around. Pay them a visit in Portsmouth and take a tour -- live free or die.

Photo via Facebook

New Jersey: J.J. Bitting Brewing Company, Woodbridge

You'll find consistently good beer, with a lot of seasonal offerings, and its outdoor deck is a draw in the summer.

Photo via Facebook

New Mexico: Eske's, Taos

Drink green chile beer in a pub that's also a century-old adobe home.

Photo via Facebook

New York: Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn

Sure, you can now find its beer many places, but it may just taste even better when purchased with a token at its public house.

Photo: Mario Tama, Getty

North Carolina: Wicked Weed, Asheville

It's a "best of" in a city already known for awesome beer. This relatively new brewery has taken Asheville by storm as it combines things that didn't exist together there: great beer, high-end bar food and a huge space with various seating options. Try the Freak of Nature Double IPA.

Photo via Facebook

Oklahoma: TapWerks Ale House, Oklahoma City

Its 212 beers on tap and more than 100 in bottles include many local brews that are more than just OK.

Photo via Facebook

Oregon: Rogue Brewery, Portland

See why this brewer's success has gone national.

Photo via Facebook 

Pennsylvania: Percy Street BBQ, Philadelphia

Known for tasty brisket, mint juleps, root beer floats -- and canned craft beer. During the holiday season it has a Christmas tree made out of beer cans.

Photo via Facebook

Rhode Island: Newport Storm, Newport

This is Rhode Island's brewery. Its Spring Irish Red is to die for.

Photo via Facebook

South Carolina: Holy City Brewing, North Charleston

You might want to pack a few empty growlers in your suitcase to bring home some of its Pluff Mud Porter.

Photo via Facebook

South Dakota: Monks House Of Ale Repute, Sioux Falls

Um, did you read the name of this place? it boasts the "largest beer selection in the area." Its 40 beers on tap and more than 150 in bottle, include South Dakota's popular Crow Peak.

Photo via Facebook

Texas: Barcadia, Dallas

A local favorite in the charming Lower Greenville neighborhood, its menu is shockingly tasty for a bar that houses Skee-Ball and Donkey Kong. Enjoy Dallas's warm nights with a local draft and a serious game of Jenga on the large open patio.

Photo via Flickr

Utah: Beerhive Pub, Salt Lake City

The classic pub downtown has a huge selection of beers, both local and from around the world. Also, it has a ice bar.

Photo via Flickr

Vermont: Blackback Pub & Flyshop, Waterbury

Located in the same town as Alchemist Brewery it has a great selection of local beers, including Heady Topper and brews from Hill Farmstead Brewery.

Photo via Facebook

Virginia: Lost Rhino, Ashburn

The head brewer here has a fun backstory -- he is also a PhD biologist at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Bonus: it's right down the road from AOL's Dulles, VA office.

Photo via Facebook

Washington: Redhook Brewery, Woodinville

About 30 minutes from Seattle, the Redhook tour and brewpub is worth the trip, but this is also in the middle of Washington's wine tasting rooms. Run by Redhook at noon, sign up for an afternoon tour, go wine tasting for a few hours, then come back for the tour followed by dinner at the brewery's restaurant, Forecasters Pub.

Photo via Facebook

West Virginia: Mecklenburg Inn, Shepherdstown

Sit at the bar or out back in the garden. Either way, you'll be enjoying your time in the oldest town in WV, while taking in the area's rich history.

Photo via Facebook

Wisconsin: Karben4 Brewery, Madison

We may be thawing out, but this brewery's Deep Winter: Coffee Stout is still a must-drink.

Photo via Facebook

Wyoming: Thai Me Up, Jackson

Drink one of its 20 craft beers on tap while watching a kung fu movie on TV (is it a surprise that this brewery is the creation of a former ski bum?).

Photo via Facebook


"We need to be judging water by its quality, and not by its history," said Mark Jockers, a spokesman for Clean Water Services, which runs four wastewater treatment plants in the Portland suburbs. "The water we're producing is significantly cleaner than what the safe drinking standards are for water that comes out of taps across the United States."

The utility plans to release 300 gallons of highly purified water in early June to roughly 20 home brewers from the Oregon Brew Crew, the state's oldest home-brewing club. A panel of experts will judge the beers in late July or early August. The victor wins $100, five others will get $50, and their kegs will be taken to an international water conference in Chicago. Though state regulators have approved the safety of the water, the beer won't be sold at stores or bars.

Though some might find toilet-to-tap totally gross, places from Singapore to parts of California and Texas use treated effluent for drinking water, generally mixing it into the regular supply.

Advocates of water reuse like to say all water is reused. When one town treats its wastewater and discharges it into a river, some of it eventually finds its way into another town's drinking supply.

"We all live downstream from someone," said Zachary Dorsey of the WateReuse Association, a nonprofit that supports water recycling.

The rainy Portland area has never had to consider intentionally drinking wastewater. In fact, the city made national headlines last year when it wasted 35 million gallons of drinking water because one man urinated into an open-air reservoir.

Clean Water Services says a growing population and environment factors might eventually pressure the supply in the Pacific Northwest. Its hope is to change Oregon regulations before there's a crisis.

Its process for purifying the water for the beer contest includes ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis and advanced oxidation - terms that don't exactly fire the public's imagination.

Oregon Brewers Festival founder Art Larrance sits on the utility's advisory board. He figured if you want to get Oregonians talking about recycled water, you have to make beer. The contest was born.

Some water cleaned by the utility goes for irrigation, but most is discharged into the Tualatin River. Last year, Clean Water Services held a contest in which brewers used water drawn from the river. That batch contained 30 percent treated wastewater. This year's competition will be 100 percent "sewage brewage."

Ted Assur won the top prize in the river contest, defeating a dozen competitors with his Vox Max Belgian beer. He said the contest was unique because participants were told to make beer that highlights the water.

"As a brewer, that's not usually the ingredient you're highlighting; it's either the malt or the hops or the yeast," he said. "I took it to mean something light, refreshing."

Assur described the highly purified water as stark, almost like distilled water, allowing him to essentially start with a blank slate before adding mineral salts.

"It is some of the best water I've ever made beer with," he said. "I think the fact that it was really starting with absolutely nothing but water, and then having to add in the exact minerals I needed. I felt like that was a factor in producing a great beer."

He wouldn't divulge what type of beer he intends to make this time around. With the contest getting national publicity, he expects a fiercer competition.

More from
How to fix the most annoying things on Facebook
Popular zoo elephants likely to get harder to see in future
89-year-old veteran earns one more KU touchdown

Read Full Story

From Our Partners