Green Beer Emphasizes Water Issues

Michigan brewer bottles beer made from polluted waters to underscore the need to preserve water-quality regulations and protect the craft beer industry.

September 24, 2018

TOLEDO, Ohio – There is a new beer on the market, but its unappetizing green color makes it look more like a bottle of algae, according to a report from the Associated Press.

Dubbed “Algae Brew,” the new beer makes a big statement about water, the ingredient that makes up about 90% of the contents of a bottle of beer. The brewer, Maumee Brewing Co., relies on Lake Erie for its water supply, and the novel Algae Brew was created to remind consumers about toxic algae that grow in the lake. Maumee wants the algae eliminated.

Craft brewers nationwide are pushing for strong environmental regulations to help keep lakes, streams and beer healthy. Many have become involved since the Trump administration began working to eliminate an Obama-era clean water rule that brewers say protects water sources from pollution. And many beer-makers want to make consumers cognizant of the problems the beer industry faces.

The Natural Resources Defense Council oversees the Brewers for Clean Water Campaign, and the group has grown from a few dozen people to nearly 100 in the past five years.

This year a group of Michigan beer-makers voted to shut down an old oil pipeline near the intersection of lakes Heron and Michigan because they believe it has the potential to leak pollutants. In June, several craft breweries near Salem, Oregon, were closed temporarily after an algae bloom led to a drinking water warning for seniors and youngsters. One Salem brewer said the problem resulted in a $40,000 sales loss for his company, plus a $5,000 investment in filtration equipment to protect against possible pollution issues in the future.

Beer companies in Georgia and Florida face similar water challenges. SweetWater Brewing in Atlanta and Swamp Head Brewery in Gainesville are involved in clean water campaigns, and company leaders say that protecting the environment is part of their respective business models.