Aug. 19, 2020

UCalgary, Village Brewery and Xylem produce Alberta’s first beer made with treated wastewater

Partners champion water reuse, demonstrate that wastewater is part of a sustainable future; virtual launch event Aug. 22

UCalgary’s Advancing Canadian Water Assets (ACWA) has partnered with Village Brewery and Xylem Inc. to produce Alberta’s first beer made with reused water, demonstrating how treated wastewater can help address water scarcity. The beer is on sale now at Village Brewery, and will be celebrated at a virtual launch event on Aug. 22. Register now.

Village Brewery has brewed a limited batch of Village Blonde ale, using water provided by ACWA. But not just any water — this water started as wastewater.

“There’s a mental hurdle to get over of how inherently gross this could be,” says Jeremy McLaughlin, head brewer at Village Brewery. “But we know that this water is safe, we know that this beer is safe, and we stand by our process.”

“This beer shows that water reuse can be a safe and important part of our sustainable future,” says Christine O’Grady, program co-ordinator at ACWA. “Wastewater can be treated using advanced treatment technology, making it into a reliable and safe water supply for many uses.”

Alberta Health Services’ Safe Healthy Environments (AHS-SHE) provided guidance to the team as it created a water safety plan for the project. AHS-SHE supports safe and healthy communities, as set out under the Public Health Act and related legislation.

Before being sent to the brewery, the water was treated at ACWA using tertiary treatment technologies including advanced oxidation and nano-filtration. It was then tested to demonstrate that it met rigorous standards outlined by AHS-SHE for water reuse, including pathogen reduction requirements, as well as Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines.

“AHS was happy to be part of this project to help develop a water safety plan and ensure the water met drinking water standards,” said Jessica Popadynetz, AHS public health inspector. “With the right measures in place alternative water sources, such as wastewater, greywater, rooftop collected rainwater, and stormwater, can be made safe for many potable and non-potable end uses.”

Partners share vision of sustainable future

The three partners were brought together by their shared vision to help grow stronger, more resilient communities, and the importance of water to their organizations.  

“Village is always interested in doing new projects with new people, and the ACWA collaboration was a natural fit,” says McLaughlin. “It was an interesting challenge.”

Xylem is an industry leader in potable reuse, and has been part of similar projects in Europe and the U.S. 

“Water scarcity continues to be a global challenge as populations keep growing,” says Albert Cho, vice-president and general manager of Xylem Inc. “Innovation and re-use are essential parts of the solution. Xylem is proud to partner with Advancing Canadian Wastewater Assets and Village Brewery in Calgary to demonstrate how we can all make this happen, together. And we’re excited to try the beer!”

Initially, the beer was set to launch on UN World Water Day, an annual global day of action on March 22. COVID-19 stopped those plans, but combating water scarcity and the UN’s water-focused Sustainable Development Goals are still an important touch point for the project.

“Proper stewardship of water resources is critical to the planet’s sustainability, and water reuse can reduce the amount of freshwater required by some applications and decrease diversion from sensitive ecosystems,” says O’Grady. “ACWA is proud to lead by example and champion water reuse with our partners in this project.”

Join in the virtual launch event Aug. 22

The limited-edition batch of Village Blonde is now on sale at Village Brewery. On Aug. 22, ACWA is hosting a virtual launch of the beer, where you can tune in and learn about how the beer was made, and the role of water reuse in a sustainable future. Learn more.

Advancing Canadian Wastewater Assets (ACWA) is a globally unique test bed and research facility where researchers, municipalities and industry can de-risk wastewater treatment and monitoring technologies. It is a partnership between the University of Calgary and The City of Calgary, as part of the Urban Alliance.

The University of Calgary’s Institutional Sustainability Strategy provides a road map for continuous improvement in our pursuit of excellence and leadership in sustainability. We aim to be a Canadian post-secondary education leader in sustainability in our academic and engagement programs, administrative and operational practices and through supporting community and industry in their aims for leadership in sustainability. Learn more about UCalgary’s leadership in sustainability.