Weakened Water Protections Will Hurt Beer

More than 100 craft breweries from across the country, including Brooklyn Brewery and New Belgium Brewing Company, are joining NRDC to explain why clean water is essential for great-tasting beer.

Steve Hindy, president and cofounder, Brooklyn Brewery: Well, water is really the lifeblood of any brewery.

You know, beer is like 95 percent water. You've got to have a good, consistent source of water if you're going to have a brewery.

So this is the brew house. Grain is going into that first vessel and mixing with water. It'll be there about an hour getting swirled around, steeping.

Cody Reif, research and development brewer, New Belgium Brewing Company: Here in Fort Collins, we're really lucky.

All of our water comes from the Cache la Poudre watershed, which is just right up the road here. As a brewer, it's a fantastic source of water. It's really clean; it's really soft. So for us, it's like a nice blank slate for making beer.

So this vessel over here is the grain hopper. So we'll take that, and then we'll actually add the water to it as we bring it into this vessel right here, which is the mash tun.

Hindy: We're very aware and sensitive to our water supply here in Brooklyn. In the 19th century, there were about 48 breweries in Brooklyn, and they came here because of the Brooklyn-Queens Aquifer, which was an incredible source of fresh water.

There was a lot of industry back then in Brooklyn, and the aquifer actually became polluted. Our water in Brooklyn now comes from upstate New York, in the Catskill Mountains, mostly.

I've done a lot of hiking up in the Catskills, and you see these wonderful, beautiful reservoirs, which are really big lakes.

Reif: I've spent my entire life on the Cache la Poudre River. I love going there, I love to fish, I love to hike. I proposed to my wife on the Cache la Poudre River. It's such a great asset to our community here.

So here in New Belgium, we've been here over 27 years, and we have over 700 employees, 400 of them right here in Fort Collins. It's a great place for people to come, meet, have a beer. I think that the brewery is central to Fort Collins. None of that would bepossible without clean water.

Since 1972, the Clean Water Act has helped keep our watersheds healthy, and so those source water protections are key to keeping that water clean and keeping our businesses open. It's amazing to think that we send this beer all over the world, and the thing that is most important in it is the water from the river.

Hindy: It's kind of wonderful when we have visitors on the weekends and we do our tours, and you explain to people that this fresh water that we're using to make the beer came from upstate New York.

Without clean water, you can't make beer. I mean, it's that simple.

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