Heaven’s Beer From The Skies Above Holland

The entrepreneurs of the Dutch beer brewery De Prael, came up with a way to make good use of the Netherlands’ copious amounts of rainwater –  They use the rainwater  to brew their own special blend of beer. Both delicious and sustainable.

Various bottles of De Prael beer

Image: De Prael

De Prael calls their new beer ‘Hemelswater: code blond’. It’s brewed with sustainable ingredients like organic malted barley and of course rainwater, which is first ultra-filtered before use.

Hemelswater beer

The product is the brainchild of Dutch social entrepreneur and co-founder of De Prael, Joris Hoebe. How did he come up with the idea of using rainwater to brew beer? ‘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?’, explains Joris.

With that in mind, Hoebe installed two large tanks to collect rainwater on the campus of the Amsterdam University of Applied Science. Together with four students and a researcher from Dutch startup development initiative MediaLAB Amsterdam, he managed to deliver 1,000 liters of rainwater to De Prael brewery located in central Amsterdam.

Through a special bacterial filtration system, called ‘Hemelswater’ (or ‘water from the heavens’), they filtered the beer and handed it over to be boiled, resulting in De Prael’s tasty beer. “It’s quite bitter, fruity and soft” proclaims Hoebe.

‘In the next year, we want to scale up with hundreds of these tanks across the city, on [the roof space of] companies, restaurants and cafes,’ He says. Hoebe continues, ‘we want them to catch the water, we’ll put in sensors and when their tanks are full, we’ll collect the water with electric cars and filter it. We are thinking about making beer, sorbet, soup and lemonade.’

But what about the cleanliness of the rainwater? Joris Hoebe’s answer, ‘you boil the beer so bacteria are killed. There are a lot of problems with drinking water, with more drugs and hormones [found in it]. We believe that with rainwater, we can make cleaner beer.’

Sponge-capacity

Hoebe was inspired by the Amsterdam Rainproof project. The project tried to make the inhabitants of the city of Amsterdam aware of the challenges of heavy rainfall and how to take action by increasing the city’s ‘sponge-capacity’. Large amounts of rainfall can cause flash-floods, but using the area as a huge sponge will make the city a safer place. Collecting and reusing rainwater from rooftops can be one of the solutions.

Rooftop water collection

Collecting rainwater from rooftops is not all that new. Back in the middle ages, rainwater was collected from the runoffs from the roofs of churches and cathedrals. The breweries were located near these building so they were able to take advantage of that water.

De Prael plans to have its own sustainable water collection device on the roof of their second site. They also encourage bars and cafes to catch their own rainwater, which the Dutch brewery can then use to make the bar’s own brand of beer.

Thomas Gesink (marketing manager at De Prael) concludes, ‘we have this goal to contribute to a better society, and we like to use and make products that are good for the environment.’