After five years of a debilitating state-wide drought, the Yolo Bypass floodplain in California is submerged again but the Sunshine State’s water problems are far from over. As groundwater resources remain diminished and parts of the southern coast still experience small-scale drought conditions, the state of San Diego has been taking some strong measures to curb as much water wastage as possible. Their latest action comes in the form of a beer made from treated sewage water.
Using recycled water from San Diego's Pure Water project, Stone Brewing Company – the largest brewery in San Diego and ninth largest in the United States – is responsible for the Full Circle Pale Ale. Boasting a taste featuring notes of caramel and tropical fruit, the company produced five barrels of the beer using water trucked in from the city’s Pure Water demonstration plant in the Miramar neighbourhood.
"This particular water will just help us not require so much natural water to come in, and [will] give us a more reliable source,” Stone Brewing CEO, Pat Tiernan, told Live Science. “So for us to be able to re-use, that's part of our mantra, that's part of what we do.”
San Diego’s wastewater recycling plan involves moving purified water treated back into the freshwater system rather than the ocean. This provides a steady source of potable water – some of which was used to produce the Full Circle Pale Ale – to protect the water supply from drought and disruptions to water imports. It’s a project that is expected to deliver 30 million gallons of recycled water a day within the next five years and 83 million gallons of drinking water per day when fully implemented in 2035, providing one-third of the city’s freshwater supply.
As for the taste of the Full Circle Pale Ale, those who have tried it have nothing but praise for the beer. Even the mayor of San Diego is a fan. “It is fantastic,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer told The Times of San Diego. “There's no better way to highlight the purity of this water.”