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'Village Blonde': Calgary professor brews up a wastewater-based beer with an important message

A "natural Blonde, whose golden glow comes from the finest two-row Alberta barley,"... and sewage.
Beer. (via Shutterstock)

Crisp and clean, fruity and floral, and lightly hopped.

The tasting notes for Village Brewery's Village Blonde might make it hard to believe the 'natural golden ale' began its journey in the sewers.

"We started with raw sewage, treated it through the normal treatment process and then added some very advanced treatment technologies to make sure that the water was safe to consume," said Leland Jackson, Professor of Aquatic Ecosystem Ecology and Scientific Director, Advancing Canadian Wastewater Assets at the University of Calgary.

The beer launched in August, and Jackson says quite a few people gave it a try and were pleasantly surprised.

"I've been brewing beer for 30 years as a home brewer, so I have maybe a little bit more of an educated tongue than many people just based on the volumes and variety I consume, and I wouldn't be able to tell the difference," said Jackson. "I would challenge a brew master to be able to detect it. I don't think they would be able to."

Now all fun and games aside about the idea of a 'poo poo brew,' Jackson says there is an important message behind it, saying many of us think our water supply is limitless.

"We're sort of victims of our own water prosperity," said Jackson. "So in a city like Waterloo or Calgary, residents turn the tap on and clean water comes out, it never ends, and people don't get sick from consuming it."

Jackson said that can lead to the perception that it's always going to be that way, but he says it is just a perception.

"That's not the situation for everybody," he said. "We read media reports fairly regularly about the situation on many First Nations where water is not safe to consume, and residents have been on boil water advisories or drinking bottled water for many many years."

Jackson says Canadians should be reevaluating the way we use water so, as populations continue to grow, everybody can have access to an abundant supply of clean water.


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