When your air conditioner is working correctly, it's not just cooling the air itself — it's also conditioning the humidity in the air. In the summer, for example, it should ideally be pulling moisture out of the cooled air before it pumps into your house (because quite frankly, 65 degrees with an 85% relative humidity level is like the world is groping you with clammy hands). This is why that air conditioner on the second floor (or even above that!) is always slowly dripping down into the walkway below.
The folks at San Diego's East Village Brewing Company decided to put that dripping condensate to use, through a partnership with San Diego International Airport. There's a whole lot of air conditioning going on at the airport, so rather than letting all that water go to waste, East Village began to collect the condensate from all of the airport's ACs, purified it, and then used that as the basis for two new beer: a West Coast-style IPA called Hoppy Travels, and a German-style pilsner called Pre-Flight Pils.
Okay so initially it sounds kinda gross; I certainly wouldn't expect you to just drink straight from your air conditioner. But it's ultimately an interesting project in water reclamation. From the press release:
The water used in the beers is condensate that dripped from the bottom of air conditioning units attached to jet bridges at SAN. The captured condensate was then purified using reverse osmosis and ozone disinfection and transported to The East Village Brewing Company for its use. The condensate water has a pure water profile with little mineral content, making the reclaimed water an ideal base for brewers. In addition to making beer, the water is used to clean equipment and vehicles at SAN as well as in the cooling towers that control the temperature in the terminals.
"Wholesome ingredients, sustainability, and community are the core tenets of our brewery," said Aaron Justus, The East Village Brewing Company Owner and Brewer. "This collaboration checks all three boxes. It's great to partner again with airport, a pillar within our community filled with passionate and fun people. The condensate water is superbly pure and ideal for brewing. Plus, it's no secret that California is in the midst of a long-term drought, so water reclamation is a creative way to reduce our water footprint here in San Diego."
The beers themselves sound all right as well. Here are the Brewer's Notes on the Hoppy Travels IPA (ABV 7.0% / IBU 75)
Hoppy Travels was brewed with water from air conditioner condensate collected at terminals in San Diego International Airport. This water is extremely soft and clean to allow for a pleasantly dry finish in this beer.
El Dorado, Mosaic and Citra hops were layered throughout the brewing process to create a textured flavor and aroma. Citrus and tropical fruits are immediate on the nose. Pithy grapefruit and ripe guava are dominant on the palette.
This beer has a bitter, dry and resinous finish that is the hallmark of West Coast IPAs. It's a delight to drink!
And the Pre-Flight Pils (ABV 5.7% / IBU 40)
Preflight Pils was brewed with water from air conditioner condensate collected at terminals in San Diego International Airport. This water is superbly clean with low mineral content, which is perfect for lagers.
Malt from Admiral Maltings in Alameda, CA provides the traditional soft bready flavors found in Pilsner. Saaz hops sourced from Elk Mountain Farms in Bonners Ferry, ID are delicate with subtle citrus and floral notes.
This beer has a sharp bite upfront, but finishes crisp, dry and clean – it's sure to delight beer drinkers of all kinds.