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Uniquely Singapore tipple: NEWater beer to debut at Singapore International Water Week

Uniquely Singapore tipple: NEWater beer to debut at Singapore International Water Week

Organisers at this year’s Singapore International Water Week teamed up with local craft brewery Brewerkz to create NEWBrew, which is made using recycled water. — TODAY pic
Organisers at this year’s Singapore International Water Week teamed up with local craft brewery Brewerkz to create NEWBrew, which is made using recycled water. — TODAY pic

SINGAPORE, July 9 — Delegates at this year’s Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) will get to pair a unique Singapore beer, NEWBrew – which is made using recycled water – with their serious discussions on water sustainability and technology.

To put their taste buds to the test, the attendees may also try telling the difference between beer brewed using regular tap water and NEWater.

To mark the tenth year since the SIWW was first held, its organisers teamed up with local craft brewery Brewerkz for the limited-edition beer. About 900 litres of NEWBrew will be available at the SIWW’s welcome reception and Hot Issues Workshop on potable water reuse on Sunday (July 8), and at Industry Night on Tuesday.

SIWW organisers approached Brewerkz in January, and national water agency PUB supplied 1,920 litres of NEWater for NEWBrew.

Brewerkz managing director and head brewer Sean McLin said he decided on an American pale ale “to let the water chemistry show how the hops work with that – the bitterness side of the hops – as well as the malts”.

“It’s a style people are enjoying in the market today,” added Mr McLin, 50, an American who has been brewing beer professionally since 1989. He had previously worked in a microbrewery in Barcelona, Spain, before joining Brewerkz in January.

He described NEWBrew as medium-body, with a bitterness that is “not assertive”, and imbued with flavours of citrus, pine, mango and pineapple from the hops used.

Water quality is crucial in making beer, and the styles of beer in various regions are dictated by the minerals present in the water, he said.

Mr McLin said he welcomed the opportunity to work with recycled water, having lived in three different places – California, Arizona, and Barcelona – that had experienced mass droughts.

He visited a NEWater facility within the first week of arrival in Singapore to better understand the water quality. NEWater is used water that is put through microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet disinfection. It has been part of Singapore’s water supply since 2003, and supplies up to 40 per cent of the country’s current water needs.

Mr McLin said he had to add a small amount of salts to the NEWater to get a healthy fermentation process going. In beer brewing, water and malt are mixed at a certain temperature, and enzymes convert the starches into sugars. The sugar-rich water, called wort, is then channelled into a brew kettle and hops are added. After the liquid is cooled, yeast is added for fermentation.

The entire process takes about two to three weeks, said Mr McLin.

The amount of water needed to brew a litre of beer has also decreased over the decades, from 10 litres previously, to about 2.5 to 3.5 litres today, he said.

The SIWW organisers are not first to use beer to promote greater understanding and acceptance of recycled water, with similar efforts seen in the United States (US) and Sweden.

NEWBrew is not the only beer brewed using recycled water that will be available at SIWW. Attendees will also be able to try Pure Water Brew, a beer from the US that has been available since 2014, when an Oregon water resources management utility supplied home brewers with its water and challenged them to create quality beer.

Asked if there are plans to commercialise NEWBrew, SIWW managing director Bernard Tan said the organisers are treating it as a one-off effort to celebrate SIWW’s tenth anniversary and to “let people understand that NEWater, being a key pillar of Singapore’s water sustainability, is safe for drinking and is even good enough to make beer”.

But requests to make use of NEWBrew will be considered on a case-by-case basis, he said.

The SIWW will be held alongside the World Cities Summit and CleanEnviro Summit Singapore from Sunday at the Sands Expo & Convention Centre. About 20,000 attendees are expected for all three events, and speakers include Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and former United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.

To reduce energy usage and waste, the temperature at the venue will be set at about 24 degrees Celsius, and food will be catered for 70 to 80 per cent of attendance. The organisers will also not be distributing bottled water. — TODAY

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