Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Brewing Beer With Less Water While Battling Drought in Texas

From KERA News:

The beer menu sits on the bar in Luckenbach, Texas.

REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi /Landov

The beer menu sits on the bar in Luckenbach, Texas.

The drought has tested industries across Texas in the last few years — and it’s even had an impact on beer.

One of MillerCoors’ mega-breweries is in south Fort Worth, and last year it produced 9 million barrels of beer. Environmental and sustainability engineer Lairy Johnson says the plant cut its water use by 9 percent.

Highlights from the Interview with Lairy Johnson:

On how much water the Fort Worth plant uses a year:

  • “In a year we use about 750 million gallons, but what we like to do is talk about how many barrels of water does it take to make a barrel of beer. In this past month we were about 3.18 barrels per barrel, 3.27 I think was our number last year for the average, and 3.21 is the year to date.”

How a Brewery Cuts Back on Water Use:

  • “We start looking at things like are you turning off all the air compressors, are you making sure when you leave your hose that your hose is in the off position – that you’re not running water? We use boilers to create steam, to do our cooking and make our beer. We came up with the idea: ‘Hey, do we really need two boilers and a backup fired?’ and the employees did the numbers, and came back with ‘No, we only need two.’ So that was a huge, significant reduction.”

How the Plant Deals with Drought Affecting the Taste of Water:

  • “We can tell what lake the water is coming from things like water chemistry, alkalinity, PH. When you brew beer, you’re trying to brew beer back to the type location of the beer. We do have to soften the water, condition the water and so forth to make the best beer possible.”


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