Singapore craft beer uses recycled sewage to highlight water scarcity

It is a beer made with only the finest ingredients: premium German barley malts, aromatic Citra and Calypso hops, farmhouse yeast from Norway – and reclaimed sewage.

NewBrew, a collaboration between Singapore’s national water agency and the local craft brewery Brewerkz, has already proved popular and has sold out on tap at the brewery’s restaurants, according to reports.

Brewerkz describes the beer as “highly quaffable” and suitable for Singapore’s tropical climate, with a smooth, toasted honey-like aftertaste. But it is also intended to cast a light on the climate emergency, and the growing threat that droughts and floods pose to the world’s fresh water supply.

Singapore, a densely populated city state, is especially vulnerable to water scarcity, owing to its lack of natural water resources and lack of space for water collection and storage facilities.

The country has invested in new ways to ensure a sustainable supply, and reduce its dependence on water imported from neighbouring Malaysia. This includes methods such as rainwater harvesting, seawater desalination and treating wastewater.

Brew uses NEWater, wastewater that Singapore’s Public Utilities Board has treated with microfiltration and reverse osmosis as well as ultraviolet light to remove contaminants, bacteria and viruses. The end result passes drinking water guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the World Health Organization.

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NEWater is mainly used for cooling and industrial processes, as well as to top up reservoirs, and is set to meet 55% of Singapore’s water needs by 2060.

Unpredictable weather and growing populations have prompted an increasing number of countries to turn to recycled wastewater to cushion supplies. Some breweries have also incorporated reclaimed water into their products, including in Canada, Germany and the US.

​​The first batch of NEWBrew has already sold out on tap at Brewerkz restaurants, according to Bloomberg. The company reportedly expects stocks at supermarkets to run out by the end of the month, but will consider making another batch.