Waste Not: This Beer Is Made From Recycled Shower Water

Down the drain and right into your belly.
It's got just a hint of Head and Shoulders.
It's got just a hint of Head and Shoulders. / Jack Andersen/DigitalVision via Getty Images

When people think about a refreshing beverage, they don’t often consider guzzling the wastewater from their shower or sink drains.

But one company is hoping to change that. Epic Cleantec, an environmentally-conscious water treatment company, has formulated a beer made from treated household wastewater.

The brew was sourced from a 40-story residential apartment complex in San Francisco using graywater, or waste that comes from discharges like sinks and bathtubs. (Blackwater is the term for wastewater containing more solid matter, and we’ll leave it at that.) The dirty water, which plays host to any number of pathogens, hair, food, and other things you shouldn’t be consuming, is then treated with ultraviolet light and microfiltration to make it a viable and renewable water source.

You can take a look at the process in the video below.

While many find the idea distasteful, proponents argue that the rigorous treatment—which can also include chlorination and reverse osmosis—results in cleaner water than what’s retrieved from natural sources.

Epic Cleantec used the system to produce 7000 cans of Epic OneWater Brew in collaboration with Devil’s Canyon Brewing Co. While it was handed out during an environmental conference last year, it can’t be legally sold: regulations generally prohibit recycled waste from being commercially distributed. Instead, the company is hoping the process draws attention to the potential for treated wastewater being used as a non-potable resource. Treated water could be diverted back to supply lines for washing machines, for example, or for toilets.

But Epic Cleantec still sees a future where consumers grow tolerant of recycled water for consumption. One state, Arizona, permits recycled wastewater for ales. And the beer, says CEO Aaron Tartakovsky, “just tastes really good.” If there’s any doubt he’s committed to his company’s mission, note that he served it at his wedding.