Urine-based beer: Belgium’s brewing innovation?

Urine-based beer: Belgium’s brewing innovation?
Credit: iStock

As those who live here know, Belgium is one of the leading countries in the world when it comes to beer innovation. Weird and wonderful new flavours and mixes are being developed all the time in the country’s large-scale and micro breweries. But Brewerks, a beer producer in Singapore, may have thrown the gauntlet down to Belgian brewers with the new drink they have recently developed, which consists of filtered domestic water and urine.

Based on the NEWater treatment process, which was launched in 2003, wastewater goes through three stages of treatment before it is mixed with German barley malts, an American variety of hops called 'citra', calypso hops and kveik, a strain of Norwegian farm yeast to create NEWBrew.

Credit: PUB NEWater

The process is similar to one 'sewer to brewer' machine developed by bioengineers at Ghent University in 2017. The Belgian process recovers pure water and fertilisers from urine, which is filtered directly from urinals via a solar-powered filtration system.

Image tweeted by @FbwUGent

Urine contains 70% of all useful fertilisers in wastewater but makes up only 1% of the total volume of wastewater. Instead of diluting it and disposing of it in sewers, the Ghent installation filters it directly from toilets.

The scientists from the Centre for Advanced Process Technology for Urban Resource recovery also created a beer called From Sewer to Brewer on the basis of recycled wastewater. At the time, they were considering using the purified water from the urinals to create a new version of this beer.

Credit: Francois Lenoir/Reuters

Now NEWBrew has taken the lead, it could lead to brewers launching their own range of pee-based beverages in Belgium.

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