A list of things rainwater is useful for: ruining barbeques, giving British people a reason to speak, the continuation of the planet’s ecosystem. Oh, and making sweet, sweet beer.
While rainwater might not sound like the most appetising beer ingredient, be happy in the knowledge that things – as this here video goes to some lengths to explain – get much weirder. Like, space-dust and hornet-yeast weird.
While innovations like these might seem extreme, things get a little clearer when considering that beer-making traditions are older than you might think.
As reported by Tech Times, the oldest known beer recipe was found when an ancient Sumerian poem to Ninkasi, the goddess of beer and brewing, was translated.
Rather than an ode to sunflowers or some such nonsense, Miguel Civil, a professor of Sumerology at the University of Chicago, found fairly precise brewing instructions and, after following them in what became known as the Sumerian Beer Project, presented his recreated ancient beer in 1991 to the American Association of Micro-Brewers, making the recipe nearly 4000 years old.
And so to the Netherlands, more specifically Amsterdam, and Hemelswater, which translates from Dutch as ‘heaven’s water’.
The Amsterdam-based team, in partnership with long-established brewery De Prael, set up barrels around the city to collect rainwater with some success, a thousand litres in May 2016 alone, which was then filtered and sanitised to make tasty, tasty beer. All
of which begs the question: considering the many sources of water available in a developed European country, why they would go to such trouble?
For the answer, we look towards Amsterdam Smart City, and more specifically their Amsterdam Rainproof project.
According to the official site, the inspiration for the project goes like so:
It is raining harder and more intensely, and our city is simply not equipped to handle all that water. As we’ve filled the city with buildings and pavements, the rainwater has nowhere to go. This results in flooding and extensive damage to houses, shops and offices.
Essentially, the city is working to develop a network of like-minded organisations and teams including “citizens, city builders, officials [and] entrepreneurs” to tackle the problem collaboratively, which means that Hemelswater may well be the most environmentally and socially conscious way to get drunk we’ve ever heard of.
Cheers to that!