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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Talking Head: Green beer

click to enlarge Raining beer: The rainwater catchment system at 5 Season Westside
  • Raining beer: The rainwater catchment system at 5 Season Westside

I just heard the best news to come down the pike since Stone Brewing came to town. Even if Judge Magnuson pulls the plug on Atlanta's Chatahoochee River water supply in 3 years, there will still be beer at 5 Seasons Westside.

The recently opened restaurant and brewery, which already fires its brewing kettles with used cooking oil from its kitchens, announced that it has installed a rainwater catchment system from RainHarvest Systems of Cumming that will provide all the water for their beer. The water is purified through 6 stages of filtration, followed by a dual-beam ultraviolet sterilization that results in water of superior quality to tap water. "The processed rainwater not only fulfills our commitment to environmentally responsible production, but it also tastes better than municipal water, which ultimately makes a smoother, better tasting beer," says head brewer Crawford Moran. "We're the only brewery in the world doing this."

The first batch of rainwater brew will be tapped at the brewery at 5:55 p.m. on Mon., Sept. 14. Rainwater Systems will be serving the beer at 7 p.m. on the same night on the square in Decatur as part of the National Conference for the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association.

Although 5 Seasons patrons sometimes drink like fish, Moran says the system will be able to keep up with demand. "It's amazing how much water this system collects. The tank holds 850 gallons. The two rains last week filled it up. We'll have enough water for a batch for every 30 minutes of rain."

In other green brewing news, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company announced the release of its first ever Estate Ale, brewed entirely from ingredients raised in the field adjacent to the company's brewery in Chico, California. Sierra Nevada first planted hops as an experiment in 2003, and last year was satisfied enough with the harvest to produce Chico Estate Harvest Wet Hop Ale, its first beer made with home-grown hops.  A number of other breweries, including Lagunitas, have had some success raising hops, but it is extremely rare to find a brewery raising its own barley, especially on a large scale.

Sierra Nevada planted 26 acres of barley in January, despite doubters who questioned whether the hot,dry climate would support the crop. The brewery had no plans to brew with this year's harvest, but when the field produced over 100,000 lbs. of good quality grain, the decision was made to produce one of the country's first "terroir" beers, using the wine term for qualities inherent to products from specific soils and climates.

There's no word on whether the Estate Ale will be available in Georgia since quantities will be limited, but hopefully we will soon get a taste of the Chico sun.

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