Washing machine water used to brew beer

The 39-storey Fifteen Fifty building in San Francisco

A technology company in San Francisco has brewed the world's first beer using purified greywater from a residential building.

Epic Cleantec is operating the Californian city’s first approved and operational greywater reuse system at the 39-storey luxury apartment building Fifteen Fifty.

The system recycles around 35,000 litres of greywater per day, or up to 12.8 million litres per year. The water is collected from washing machines and showers and is then treated to high standards and usually reused for toilet flushing.

“We wanted to do something fun that was going to be an engaging tool that showcased the untapped potential of water reuse."

Aaron Tartakovsky, Epic Cleantec

In September 2022, Epic Cleantec transported around 9,000 litres of the greywater from Fifteen Fifty to brewing partner Devil’s Canyon Brewing Co, to begin the two-week transformation into a prototype Kölsch-style ale.

“We wanted to do something fun that was going to be an engaging tool to talk to people about, to get them excited, but also that showcased the untapped potential of water reuse,” said Aaron Tartakovsky, Epic Cleantec’s co-founder and chief executive.

By the end of October 2022, the brewing process was completed, and Epic Cleantec’s OneWater Brew was professionally canned and labelled with a silhouette of the Fifteen Fifty building.

The Epic OneWater brew

Recycled greywater - sometimes referred to as reclaimed water - is water that has been treated to remove contaminants so that it can be safely reused, and San Francisco is seen as a global leader in the advancement of greywater reuse in the built environment.

The city is also the first in the US to pass regulations that require new buildings over 92,000 square meters to install and operate onsite water reuse systems. Common applications include toilet flushing, irrigation, cooling towers, and laundry.

The water is treated to a high level of purity that meets or exceeds US federal drinking water quality standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Although Epic OneWater Brew is not yet commercially available, there is a growing number of brewers globally embracing the concept of using recycled greywater in the brewing process, but there is often public perception that greywater is of lesser quality, especially when it is being used in the food and beverage sector.

“Epic Cleantec is on the mission to advance the conversation on the untapped potential of greywater. With advanced technologies Epic Cleantec is going into these buildings - which globally use 14% of all water with almost no greywater recycling - and helping these projects reuse up to 95% of water,” Tartakovsky said.