Like many people I know, I’m a fan of “craft” beers produced by small-ish brewery operations, and I like trying new varieties.
But there’s a new brew in Singapore that I’m quite sure I’ll never be sampling, regardless of the circumstances. Made by a craft beer company known as Brewerkz, it’s a blonde ale called NEWBrew that went on sale at supermarkets and other locations around the Southeast Asian island country in April.
But here’s the issue: NEWBrew is made from – wait for it – recycled sewage.
NEWBrew is a collaboration between Brewerkz and PUB, Singapore’s national water agency. And OK, while PUB is just a simple acronym for Public Utilities Board, you’re right, you couldn’t make up a better name for this situation.
NEWBrew uses NEWater, Singapore’s national brand of “ultra-high grade” drinking water made from sewage, which first filled Singaporeans’ glasses in 2003 as a means of improving the island’s “water security” and furthering an effort to emphasize the importance of sustainable water use and recycling.
Something I find puzzling about the ingredients in NEWBrew (and it’s very existence, for that matter) is that Singapore is renowned for being one of the cleanest countries on the planet. For goodness’ sake, this is a place where you can get in trouble with the law for spitting or dropping a chunk of used chewing gum on the ground. It just doesn’t strike me as the home of a sewage-based canned beverage.
But national cleanliness aside, I just can’t wrap my head around the idea of a beer that has toilet byproduct as it’s primary ingredient.
And I’m sure I’m far from alone, so I also don’t expect to see any commode-commodity craft beers appearing any time soon on shelves in the United States. Nope, I don’t expect Springfield’s Mother’s Brewing Company to introduce Potty Wonders Lager in the foreseeable future and I doubt that Public House Brewing of St. James will announce Cesspool Cerveza in my lifetime. I’m also pretty confident that Texas County’s Piney River Brewing won’t soon be hosting an event for the roll-out of Golden Harvest Ale.
Some locals who have sampled NEWBrew said they couldn’t tell the difference.
“If you don’t tell people it’s made from wastewater, they probably won’t know,” a woman said.
I’m gonna say they better know and that anything else would be extremely unfair. And the “probably” part of the woman’s statement is scary.
The head brewer at Brewerkz has been quoted as saying NEWater is used because it’s “perfect for brewing because of its neutral taste” and that the water’s “mineral profile plays a vital role in chemical reactions during brewing.”
Mineral profile? I don’t want to know.
Oh, and for the you-can’t-make-it-up file: NEWBrew, of course, has a “head” brewer. Nice.
Not that it matters, but NEWBrew isn’t the first sewage-based beer the world has been unfortunate enough to behold. Nope, some folks Nya Carnegie Brewery in Stockholm, Sweden, and at Village Brewery in Calgary, Canada, have already been there and done that (for reasons I’m sure make great sense to themselves).
Anyway, whoever decides to produce toiletry-trappings beer, and wherever a brew born of sewage is touted as something good for the environment and people in general, I’m going to steer clear. Thank you, but I just don’t care to down a glass of beer made from, well, urine.
What are we going to see next, sludgy snack cakes or excrement enchiladas?
Just the thought of drinking NEWBrew makes me want to gag, and say “really?”
What a world.
Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.