The internet is a strange place and we are discovering ‘stranger things’ quite literally! If you thought fusion foods - like Chocolate Vada Pav, Idli Ice Cream and Mithai Momos - are the limit, wait until we tell you about the latest invention taking the internet by storm. A new alcoholic beverage launched in Singapore, called ‘NEWBrew’, is made with recycled toilet water. Yes, you read that right. 

A collaboration between the country’s national water agency, PUB, and local craft brewery Brewerkz, this blonde ale was first announced at a water conference in 2018, and went on sale in supermarkets and at Brewerkz outlets in April this year. PUB says the new beer is part of an effort to educate Singaporeans on the importance of sustainable water use and recycling. 

The beverage uses ‘NEWater’ - a brand of drinking water in Singapore, which is recycled from sewage water. This initiative was started to promote the importance of sustainability and recycling, proposed due to the limited sources of freshwater in Singapore. The island country adopted water recycling technology that treats sewage water and turns it into drinking water. The process involves disinfecting the sewage water, which is then treated with UV rays, and is passed through various stages of treatment before it turns into potable water. 

Speaking about the beer, a consumer who had purchased it from a local supermarket to try, said, “I seriously couldn’t tell this was made with toilet water. I don’t mind having it if it was in the fridge. I mean, it tastes just like beer, and I like beer.” 

Mitch Gribov, Brewerkz’s head brewer, explained the idea behind using NEWater in brewing. “NEWater perfectly suits brewing because it tastes neutral. The mineral profile of water plays a key role in chemical reactions during brewing,” he reportedly said. 

Singapore isn’t the only country to have brewed beer with recycled sewage. Stockholm-based Nya Carnegie Brewery partnered with brewing giant Carlsberg and IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute to launch a pilsner made with purified sewage, while Village Brewery in Canada rolled out their own version along with researchers from the University of Calgary and the US water technology company Xylem. 

Those who have sampled the NEWBrew are in complete support as they find it refreshing, light and completely in sync with Singapore’s tropical climate. “If you don’t tell people it’s made with waste water, they probably won’t know,” said Grace Chen, who sampled the ale. But not everyone is convinced with the innovation. Singapore student Low Yu Chen reportedly said, “There are many kinds of beers around, if I wanted a beer, I’d pick something made with normal water.”

But the popularity of NEWBrew seems to be rising already, as the first batch of the drink is sold out on the tap at Brewerkz restaurants, and at supermarkets it will be sold out by the end of July. The company will then assess the response and decide on making another batch.  

Well, the idea of processing sewage into drinking water is one that is truly innovative, and the need of the hour. While it was once largely resisted, it has definitely gained immense support in the past few years as the world’s supply of fresh water decreases. Countries like Israel and Singapore have already incorporated the technology, while cities such as Los Angeles and London are planning to follow suit.