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City of Boise partners with local breweries to make beer from recycled water

Used water that has been flushed down the toilet or sent down the drain is treated at Boise facilities, re-treated and then used to make beer and cider.

BOISE — Recycled material can be used to make a lot of different products. But what about beer?

That's what the city of Boise and a handful of local breweries are doing, using recycled water to make a new kind of brew.

While it might not sound too appealing, a crowd of thirsty Boiseans were certainly enjoying the beverages on Sunday.

"Basically, any water that is flushed down the toilet or goes down your drain, is what we call used water and so that goes to one of two facilities in the city of Boise where it is treated to a very high level and right now it’s put back in the Boise river," said Colin Hickman with Boise Public Works.

Every day, the city collects 30 million gallons of this used water.

Instead of letting it flow downstream, Boise wanted to try something new.

"What this pilot [program] is all about is seeing if we could get the most out of every drop of water," Hickman said. "Is there a way that we can take that water, which is right now just going into the river and flowing away, and do something different, create a viable product?"

The viable product is beer and cider made from local brewers at Barbarian Brewing, Long Drop Cider, Mad Swede Brewing, and Lost Grove Brewing.

"The beer is fabulous and the real testament to the beer is the brewers," said Mark Jockers with Clean Water Services.

You may be thinking, is the beer clean or even safe?

Jockers says the recycled water is even cleaner than the water that comes from your kitchen faucet. After the water is treated at Boise's plants, there is an extra layer of purification.

"Were able to take it through this ultra-filtration, reverse osmosis, UV ultra violet light, advanced oxidation, and we produce water that's cleaner than drinking water, it’s absolutely pure water," Jockers said.

Some brewers in other states that have used this same method even prefer the recycled water.

"The brewers love it because the water is so pure it’s a blank slate," Jockers said. "I worked with a brewer in Arizona recently who used this, and they can't make pilsners in Arizona because the water is too hard but with this they could make the type of water they needed to make a pilsner."

If you missed Sunday's event and want to try the beer and cider, don't worry. The libations will be on tap at different restaurants downtown.

"All of the beers and the cider are brand new, they have never been released before, so they took that recycled water and made a brand-new product out of it," Hickman said.

"We really should be judging water based on its quality, it’s perfectly clean, versus its history that it used to be sewage," Jockers said.

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