Some would frown upon the notion of drinking at 10:30 a.m. – and no, these guys weren’t getting ready for Spartans vs. Ducks. But this event was about more than just beer.
Washington County’s Clean Water Services and the Oregon Brew Crew, the state’s largest home brewing club, held on Saturday what they believe to be the first ever brewing competition featuring beer made from highly purified river water, taken downstream from a Tualatin River sewage treatment plant.
“It’s completely safe,” said Washington County Chairman Andy Duyck, one of the competition’s 18 judges. “We have to change people’s perceptions about water.”
Clean Water Services officials said they organized the event to show the possibilities of reusing wastewater that is cleaned at the agency’s treatment facilities, as states like Texas and California confront water shortages. The competition featured 16 beers brewed by 13 amateur home brewers, who described the purified water as a “blank canvas” with which to add flavor.
“A lot of other places around the country have much harder water,” said Jason Barker, of Hillsboro, who organized the event and entered his Oregon Logger California common in the competition. “With this water, you can get the taste just how you want.”
Water that is totally pure lacks the minerals found in tap water, allowing brewers to add small amounts of certain minerals to achieve maximum flexibility over the taste. For instance, Barker added calcium chloride, Epsom salt and table salt to his beer. Jenn McPoland, of Portland, brewed a “Squiffy English IPA” by adding a Burton-on-Trent profile to the water, mimicking water found in the English town of the same name that gave birth to beers like Bass.
“That’s how the beers evolved, based on the water,” Barker said.
Pure Water Brew competition in Hillsboro Clean Water Services’ Mark Jockers announces the winners of the first-ever Pure Water Brew competition, a contest in which amateur brewers made beer with highly purified and recycled wastewater from the Tualatin River.
The competition was hosted at ABV Public House north of U.S. 26 in Hillsboro. Brewers of the top four beers received $100 each, and the first-place winner – Oregon Brew Crew President Ted Assur, who entered a Belgian beer – took home an additional $50. Washington County officials will also take Assur’s beer to a water quality conference in New Orleans, where they will present about the competition and the purifying technology used to make it happen.
The purification techniques involved in the process included disinfection, ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis and advanced oxidation.
The idea for the competition began with one of its judges – Art Larrance, the owner of Cascade Brewing and founder of the Oregon Brewers Festival, who also sits on the Clean Water Services Advisory Commission. Larrance, Duyck and others eventually selected four beers that were considered “best in show”:
First place: Tedd Assur, “Vox Max Belgian”
Second place: Jeremie Landers, “German Pilsner”
Third place: Mike Marsh, “Single Grain Saison”
Fourth place: Nick Dahl, “Kolsch”
— Luke Hammill