• Bottoms up! Beer made from sewage is reported "tasty". (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
A new beer made from recycled sewage water isn't just there for shock-value. It's created from noble pursuits as well.
Bron Maxabella

6 Jun 2018 - 2:45 PM  UPDATED 6 Jun 2018 - 2:52 PM

From Tooheys to Tiger, Australians love a beer. But would we be happy knocking back a cold one if it used to be… poo?

The Swedish Environmental Research Institute (IVL) has teamed up with boutique Swedish brewery Nya Carnegie Bryggeriet and Carlsberg Sweden to create PU:REST, a 4.8% pilsner made using organic malt, hops and recycled waste water.

IVL spokesperson Staffan Filipsson says the recycled water is as “pure and safe as tap water”, but admits that people are still reluctant to imbibe. Turning the recycled water into an irresistible product like beer is possibly a genius move.

The new beer is not just for shock-value. Its higher social purpose is to highlight sustainable water management practices and the importance of providing clean water solutions. The water used in brewing the beer has been through a long process of purification and testing to ensure that it’s suitable for drinking.

"Ultimately, this comes down to beating the drum for sustainable water treatment, and for the value of fresh water," says Filipsson.

Ick factor is all in the mind

While drinking recycled sewage definitely has a high ‘ick factor’, Australians have actually been doing it for years. There is currently no Australian urban water supply directly recycled from treated sewage, but sewage water does still end up in our drinking water supply.

After trying the beer, Jan Bärtås said there was “not a shred of taste from faeces...” A statement that is oddly less reassuring than it should be.

Writing for The Conversation, Ian Wright, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Science, Western Sydney University, says that many large towns discharge treated sewage into catchment rivers for dams like Sydney’s Warragamba Dam, which wind their way back into tap water supplies. The quality of water supplied is governed by Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, which are in line with WHO’s drinking water quality guidelines.

It's not all about the bajsöl

Fair enough, it’s possible that knowing you’re already drinking sewage water is not making the idea of sewage beer any more appealing. PU:REST is already being called bajsöl  or “crap beer” in Sweden. This hasn’t deterred its makers from their mission to create a more eco-friendly brew.

Australians have indirectly been drinking treated sewage water for years.

Carlsberg’s involvement in the beer is in line with its new environmental program, ‘Together Towards Zero’. Part of the initiative is to cut the company’s water use in half by 2030.

Nya Carnegie Bryggeriet Brewmaster, Chris Thurgeson says, “We always try to find climate-friendly solutions in our brewery. For example, some of our spent grain has been converted into biogas, we use green electricity in the brewery, and we sort food waste in our restaurant.”

What the punters are saying

So, PU:REST has solid environmental credientials, but what do consumers really think about the beer? Tommy Nilsson, Swedish native and longtime traveller, told his followers on Instagram that the beer was “very tasty”. 

After trying the beer, Jan Bärtås said there was “not a shred of taste from faeces...” A statement that is oddly less reassuring than it should be.

However, judging by reactions left on Nya Carnegie Bryggeriet’s Facebook page, there is really only one way people want to describe the beer, and sadly that's with a green emoji...

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