There are more breweries in California than anywhere else in the nation. That's great for beer but not so great for another cherished liquid in the Golden State: water. It takes as many as five pints of water to make a pint of beer, and in a state that has been battling a crippling drought for years, that ratio is a big problem.
Lenny Mendonca, owner of Half Moon Bay Brewing Co., thinks he has a solution. Instead of drawing more freshwater from California's dwindling supply, he's been experimenting with recycled wastewater from NASA, which treats water nearby to simulate systems used on the International Space Station.
Some people make a face when they hear about it, but it's an increasingly common consideration in water-starved California. Places such as Orange County are already recycling some wastewater to be returned to the groundwater supply, slaking the thirst of millions of people.
Regulations on the sale of products made with recycled water currently bar Mendonca from selling his recycled-water beer, but he thinks those rules will change. If and when they do, people may seek out Half Moon Bay's beers for their ingenuity and environmental sensitivity. Recycled water could even become the brand's biggest selling point.