By Jimi T Hardee
Faultline Brewing Company is a brewpub based in Sunnyvale California, just a stone’s throw from our workshop in Mountain View. We recently had the opportunity to talk to Peter Catizone—their head brewer—and discuss his experience in dealing with water treatment in the brewing industry.
Peter has been brewing for more than 25 years now. Like many professional brewers, he got his start home brewing. In his years in the industry, Peter has dealt with many of the shortcomings of water treatment from ineffectual septic systems, to the water pain that comes from working with municipal treatment centers.
Brewing is a high water use industry, and all that wastewater is expensive to treat, some breweries can pay twice as much for their water compared to similar industries like pharmaceuticals and agriculture.
The unfortunate reality is that for smaller breweries there really isn’t a good solution on the market at this time. Larger business can sometimes afford to set up their own on-site treatment systems but for the little guys, this just isn’t an option.
“It’s too expensive, the pre-treatment can cost hundreds of thousands… so if you are just a small place starting off brewing that's a big chunk of money” says Peter. “Seems like a lot of them (treatment solutions) are geared towards bigger breweries”
This isn’t to say there is no innovation happening in treating brewery waste, but there are not many places creating new technologies with the small guys in mind.
“I saw a talk on the ‘EcoVault’ that takes brewery waste and makes electricity, and then puts out water that I guess is clean enough to discharge… but you have to be making a lot of beer, way more than this place… it’s a great product, but there's a lot of little breweries in this country”
In the current US market, over 95% of breweries make less than 3000 barrels a year, and for them, most of these treatment options are still out of reach. With our NuTree systems though, we hope to provide these smaller operations with the resources they need to turn water treatment into a potential for growth, rather than an obstacle to overcome.
“It’s just a cool idea… in an ideal world, we just discharge this into the pond… and then it would be like an attraction, we could even cook stuff in the kitchen with it.” says Peter when asked about what makes the NuTree appealing to smaller brewers.
Our goal with the NuTree has been to make treating brewery waste easier for the brewers while opening up new avenues of potential growth for the breweries.
“If someone just had a plot and they are running a small brewing, you could just put in one… If you had a sewer (you could discharge the water into) I can’t imagine a city would have an issue.”
Faultline doesn’t have the same intensive problems with their water treatment as some of the other breweries we have spoken to, but after 25 years in the industry, Peter is more than aware of the kinds of challenges that small brewers have to overcome when it comes to treating all that waste.
In the current market landscape, craft beer and the larger beer companies are competing heavily for distribution. Ultimately, what we are trying to do at NuLeaf is to provide treatment solutions with the little guys in mind so they can keep growing and take a big chunk of that market, brewing the beer we love and stimulating local economies around the US and across the globe!
We will certainly be stopping into Faultline again (if only to grab a pint), and if you find yourself in the Sunnyvale area, we recommend you do the same!