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When It Rains, Make Beer

Thomas Gesink of Brewery de Prael in Amsterdam tastes beer made from rainwater.

Thomas Gesink of Brewery de Prael in Amsterdam tastes beer made from rainwater.

There is a saying that advises “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” In other words, make the best out of a bad situation.

Some people in the Netherlands are taking that advice. This June, they suffered under one of the rainiest months in Europe in more than 100 years. But instead of complaining about the rain, some Amsterdam residents decided to take advantage of the extra water.

No, not to make lemonade – to make beer.

Joris Hoebe is an entrepreneur in the Netherlands. He was already working on projects to help Amsterdam be more like a sponge. The projects aimed to help the city capture and use more rainwater before it goes into the sewer system and out to sea.

Hoebe also enjoys making beer at home. He thought he might be able to capture rainwater and use it to make beer.

“Well, I thought 'I need water to make beer and we have this problem of these heavy rainfalls, so why don't we combine these two?'”

When Hoebe makes beer, he does not need too much water. But larger beer makers do need a lot of water. It takes about five liters of water to make one liter of beer.

Because water is a significant expense for a brewery, anything the small brewery can do to limit that cost is helpful. So Hoebe thought he might be able to talk a small brewery into using rainwater to make beer.

Workers at Brewery de Prael in Amsterdam were not sure about the idea at first. One concern was that the rainwater would be dirty.

But Hoebe and a partner, Pavel van Deutekom, were already working on a rain-catching system that filters the water so it is safe to drink. The two men were assisted by a group of students at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences.

When Hoebe and the students said they could provide 1,000 liters of water, the brewery workers thought it would be worth a try.

Thomas Gesink is the marketing manager of Brewery de Prael. Gesink said he never thought of using rainwater to make beer. He thinks the brewery is the first in Amsterdam to experiment with rain as a water source.

“Because it is a first time that it has ever been done by my knowledge and it’s a very innovative project,” Gesnik said.

The team boiled the water and filtered it to make sure it was clean. They then started making a blond beer called “Hemelswater,” which means “heavenly water” in Dutch. It is almost sold out.

Hoebe told The Guardian newspaper that making beer is only the beginning. The plan is to put more water collection tanks and filters around Amsterdam. If the showers continue, residents can capture the rain and use it to make anything that needs water – soup, sorbet, and yes, even lemonade.

I’m Dan Friedell.

Serginho Roosblad wrote this story for Dan Friedell adapted it for Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

What do you think about the people using rainwater to make beer? We want to know. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.


Words in This Story

blondadj. of a yellow or very light brown color

expensen. something on which money is spent

sponge – n. something that absorbs liquid and is often used for cleaning

entrepreneurn. a person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money

filtern. a device that is used to remove something unwanted from a liquid or gas that passes through it

complain – v. to say or write that you are unhappy, sick, uncomfortable, etc., or that you do not like something

shower – n. a brief fall of rain or snow over a small area

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