Dutch brewer turns rain into beer
Amsterdam beer brewer de Prael launched a new brew this summer with a particularly original and very Dutch ingredient: rainwater.
For a soggy nation like the Netherlands, with a reputation for being constantly drenched in the stuff, a beer made from rainwater seems like a surprisingly appropriate product.
Named Code Blond, the 5,7 percent blond beer is exactly the same as De Prael’s standard Bitterblond, only with water sourced from the sky, not the tap.
When it was released, reviews from regular drinkers were positive, with reports that most people found the flavour slightly softer than the original, and tastier.
Similar to an IPA, and with bitter and fruity tones, the beer has also been dubbed Hemelswater, which translates as "Heaven’s water".
De Prael co-founder Joris Hoebe explained the inspiration for the beer to the Guardian: "We get lousy summers and a lot of rain. As a hobby, I was also brewing beer and noticed you need a lot of water. I was thinking, why don’t we put these two together: the abundance of rainwater and the need for water to brew beer?"
Brewing for a better Amsterdam
Brouwerij de Prael has a reputation for experimentation, social engagement and environmental initiatives. For this project they collaborated with start-up development hub mediaLAB at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (HvA), where they set up two large water tanks to gather rain during the month of May.
Part of the idea behind the beer was to raise awareness about Amsterdam’s vulnerability to sudden heavy rain, particularly summer downpours, which have become increasingly common in recent years.
Organisation Amsterdam Rainproof encourages Amsterdam residents to create gardens and structures that either gather or absorb rainwater, and that is exactly what Code Blond is all about: adapting to climate behaviour in an innovative way.
The Code Blond slogan "Geen regen, geen bier" (No rain, no beer) also draws attention to the direct consequences of too little (or too much) precipitation.
How to make Heaven’s water
To create the beer, de Prael collected 1.200 litres of rainwater (necessary for 1.000 litres of beer) in the grounds of the HvA, before wheeling it to their brewery in the historic centre of Amsterdam.
The rainwater was processed by a bacterial filtration system and then boiled, before being used in the brewing process.
The brewery is constantly experimenting, and will shortly bring out a German-style smoked beer. In 2017 they hope to scale up Hemelswater production with more rainwater tanks around town to collect the precious ingredient.
Try a drop from the sky
Since its launch, the inaugural batch of Hemelswater has mostly sold out, however a limited amount is still available for purchase at Sterk Amsterdam where you can find it both bottled and on tap (BYO beer bottles).
You can also sample de Prael’s other brews at their brewery on the Oudezijds Voorburgwal.