Historians assert that among the provisions Noah secured on the ark was an ample supply of beer. No one knows for sure if he brought enough to accommodate him and his seven other human passengers for “40 days and 40 nights,” but if Noah also had the foresight to stow barley, well, we all know he had a more-than-ample rain-water supply for brewing on his own!
This is not quite the case for the modern-day beer brewer. The boom in popularity for craft brewing as well as “mass” brewing puts the U.S. consumption of beer at approximately 50 billion pints per year. In terms of the water footprint required to produce that beer, on average one pint of beer requires 317 pints (or 39.6 gallons) of water. To make an even bigger impression, more than 99 million Americans drink beer regularly, with an average of one beer per day being consumed for every drinking-aged adult.
So, while today’s brewers don’t have the overabundance of water that plagued poor Noah, they do have a something – a very big something, fact – in common with the ark captain: a thirst for survival. Brewers nationwide have recognized if they are to survive in the marketplace and, more important, if the beer industry is to survive as a whole, they need to rectify increasing beer demand with shortages in supply of their number one brewing ingredient, water.
Individual brewers also seem to have something – again, a very big something – in common with each other: a significant interest in sustainability and water conservation. From mega-breweries like Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors, to craft breweries like Two Brothers and Wild Onion, brewers are implementing ways to increase water efficiency, as well as save and recirculate water… starting with the cultivation of barley, right through to the sanitation and capping of the bottles. This article offers a fascinating look at the ingenuity and impact of brewers as they prioritize water conservation and efficiency in their businesses.
Granted, brewers also realize the economic impact of brewing responsibly – lowering water usage can lower costs and increase business. But, the overriding dynamic as far as beer brewers and conservation/sustainability is concerned seems to be founded on a sense of responsibility to the environment and surrounding communities. There are some powerful examples of this out there, including Full Sail Brewing in Oregon, which operates its own voluntary wastewater treatment plant to reduce the burden on municipal plants… and Cape Cod Beer in Massachusetts, which donates all used and leftover grain to area farmers for feed and compost. Moreover, more than fifty breweries have joined National Resource for Defense Council’s “Brewers for Clean Water,” taking a pledge in support of clean water, and putting their actions where their words are.
In other words, beer brewers nationwide are giving a second meaning to the mantra, “drink responsibly”! And for this, we applaud them… like Noah, these responsibly brewers are keeping our environment and our future “afloat,” by helping preserve our most precious resource.