Fort Collins craft brewers cooperating on water issues

From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacob Laxen):

On Tuesday night, Brewater hosted a panel open to the public at New Belgium Brewing.

“We all understand 100 percent how important water is to our product and our community,” said Horse & Dragon Brewing co-owner Carol Cochran.

While Oregon and Washington both have state brewery watershed groups, Brewater is the only formal collection of craft brewers from the same city to collaborate on water conservation issues.

Fort Collins craft brewers collectively use about two percent of town’s water. About half of what the craft breweries use is treated and returned to the Poudre River.

“We feel we need to do our part,” said Katie Wallace, New Belgium’s assistant director of sustainability.

Since Brewater was formed in 2013, equipment redesigns have saved 3 million gallons annually at Odell Brewing, 1 million gallons at New Belgium and 40,000 gallons at 1933 Brewing — which has since closed but has plans to reopen with a new concept under new owners.

“My biggest advice is to challenge your equipment supplier,” said Odell engineer Matt Bailey. “Just because it is out there doesn’t mean it’s the best practice.”

Water conservation tactics in Fort Collins range from New Belgium — the state’s largest craft brewer — having its own water treatment plant and converting some of its used water into electricity, to much smaller operations that do much more simple methods such as tracking beer loss.

“The bigger breweries in town have been fantastic mentors,” Cochran said. “They set a great example.”

And while the Fort Collins craft breweries may compete for sales and tap space, they work together on conserving water.

“We would like to make beer in the future,” said Zach Wilson, the new owner of 1933 Brewing. “So it is really important to be involved now.”

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