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Dutch brewer launches rainwater beer (Every cloud…)

Living under an almost permanent veil of cloud may not be a hopeless situation after all – a Dutch brewer has just pioneered a rainwater beer.

The Hemelswater beer is being made at De Prael Brewery in Amsterdam (Photo: Brouwerij de Prael)

UK brewers take note: a group of Dutch social entrepreneurs has taken advantage of the high levels of rainfall in the Netherlands to produce a ‘Hemelswater’, or ‘Heaven’s Water’, blond beer.

Launching at the De Prael brewery in Amsterdam this month, the Hemelswater: Code Blond is a 5.7% beer made from ultra-filtered rainwater, organic malted barley and wheat, hops and yeast.

“It’s a bitter blond, like an IPA,” explained Hemelswater co-founder Joris Hoebe, “It’s quite bitter, fruity and soft.”

Hemelswater co-founder told the Guardian that the product was inspired by an environmental initiative called Amsterdam Rainproof, an organisation which aims to make Dutch citizens aware of the problems of heavy rainfall and to take steps to increase the city’s so-called ‘sponge capacity’.

The Netherlands is one of the most flood-prone countries in the world, with more than half of its area at or below sea level. Without its systems of dikes, dams and floodgates, much of the western edge of the country would be submerged under water.

“We get lousy summers and a lot of rain,” Hoebe told the Guardian. “As a hobby, I was also brewing beer and noticed you need a lot of water. I was thinking, why don’t we put these two together: the abundance of rainwater and the need for water to brew beer?”

Recruiting a group of four students and a researcher, Hoebe set up two huge water collection tanks in the grounds of the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences.

In May the team managed to collect 1,000l of rainwater, which was conveyed to De Prael brewery in central Amsterdam.

Using a bacterial filtration system, the team filtered the water before boiling it and using it to brew a blond beer.

The brew is on sale for around €2 per bottle, and will be served at several restaurants and bars around the Dutch capital.

Hoebe said that the team had the ambition to scale up the venture, recruiting third parties to collect rainwater to use in beer brewing and other drinks products.

“In the next year, we want to scale up with hundreds of these tanks across the city, on [the roof space of] companies, restaurants and cafes,” he said. “We want them to catch the water, we’ll put in sensors and when their tanks are full, we’ll collect the water with electric cars and filter it. We are thinking about making beer, sorbet, soup and lemonade.”

Daniel Goedbloed, programme manager at Amsterdam Rainproof, gave his enthusiasitic backing to the brewing project.

“Rain beer is great,” he said. “We say every drop counts and don’t just look at the down sides. Look at the fact that you can use rainwater to green the city and make it more attractive or even flush your toilet. Hemelswater uses rainwater to make a really nice product: beer. It’s fun, and a lot of people drink beer.”

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