A 2012 study by The Beer Institute reports that the U.S. consumed an estimated 6.3 billion gallons of beer within that calendar year. As beer is made up of 90 to 95 percent water, the market opportunity for a sustainable source that produces water that is pure is quite significant.
Ambient Water provides atmospheric water generation systems, which is a fancy way of saying machines that pull water from humidity in the air. For a water-intensive industry like craft brewing, an innovation like this is intriguing, and for a sustainability-minded industry, like craft brewing, it is even more intriguing.
Ambient announced in April that it was going to find out and signed agreements to supply three craft breweries with water produced from its atmospheric water generation systems to brew special condensation-based beers — Ballast Point Brewing Co., Stone Brewery and Rock Bottom Brewery.
The first batches of these condensation beers make their debut this month.
“Water is obviously a key ingredient to the beer brewing process, so this is intriguing for us. The system generates clean and pure water, making it a great water source for brewers and the perfect canvas for exploring new styles and flavors,” said Julia Cain, director of research and development, Ballast Point Brewing Co. “Utilizing Ambient Water’s atmospheric water generators could provide us with the water we need while bolstering our precious water supply. Plus, it’s a great story to tell people they are drinking beer with natural condensation in it. Unique stories like that are what craft beer is all about.”
The company’s flagship atmospheric water generator, the AW400, has been installed adjacent to UCSD’s Jacobs Medical Center, a state-of-the-art 245-bed medical and surgical specialty hospital opened in November of 2016. It is now fully functional onsite producing hundreds of gallons of potable water per day, to be used for landscaping (since there is no emergency situation, which is when the machine would serve in providing drinking water).
The greatest benefit of the water produced from Ambient Water to the breweries is its purity. This allows the breweries to add their own ingredients to it to mimic water tastes from around the world, and brew beers that have never been tasted before. Water from an Ambient Water atmospheric water generator has only 7 PPM (particles per million), as compared to water from the City of San Diego that has 700 PPM.
Ballast Point brewed two pilsners using pure water from Ambient’s water generator at UCSD, which extracts moisture from the coastal fog. Named CleanEscape #1 (5.3 percent ABV) and CleanEscape #2 (5.5 percent ABV) after pirates escaping into fog banks, the beers explore how higher sulfate in water can enhance hop taste and bitterness, along with testing higher chloride levels to enhance mouthfeel and malt. CleanEscape #1 has more chloride, while CleanEscape #2 has more sulfate.
CleanEscape is a San Diego take on a classic Pilsner — clean and refreshing — with more hops. The resulting beer isn’t as hoppy as an IPA, but features hints of floral and slightly fruity hop notes. The greatest benefit of the water produced from Ambient Water to the breweries is its purity.
With multiple systems already commercially available or in-development, the Ambient’s technology produces clean and fresh water for a host of commercial industries, including oil and gas exploration and farming, while also providing fresh drinking water for homes, offices, and communities.