No Water. No Beer.

If you can boil water, you can brew beer. A common utterance from experienced homebrewers to nervous novices contemplating their first batch, but they aren’t far off. Sure, there are multiple steps involved and the whole process takes three to four hours, so maybe making lasagna would be a more apt comparison.

Whatever the statement, however, it still all boils down to the matter of water. In Colorado, we are lucky to have access to some of the purest water in the country. But, while we have great water, we do not have an excess amount of it.

To raise awareness and bring people together to celebrate water, Denver off the Wagon and Imbibe, with the help of Denver Westword, are putting on The Endless Summer festival this Friday, August 16 at the McNichols Building (15th & Colfax), from 8 p.m. to Midnight to benefit local nonprofit Water For People. Tickets still available here.

Water for People provides developing countries with access to clean water. Pictured: Boy in Malawi. (Credit: Water for People)

Water for People provides developing countries with access to clean water. Pictured: Boy in Malawi. (Credit: Water for People)

“We are lucky enough to have amazing brewers and beer, but it all comes from water in our state,” says Aaron Carlson, Senior Manager of Marketing & Strategy for Water for People, an organization that works to provide developing countries with access to clean water. “When you go to the developing world, people are walking four hours a day to collect water for daily use and most of the time it isn’t even safe.”

With great water comes great beer. In Colorado, we have nearly 200 breweries and 40 distilleries (at least by the end of this year), all of which enjoy the benefits of Rocky Mountain water. Brewers in Colorado do not have to worry about soft water or hard water, but there is a small tinge of worry about the possibility of running out of water – we do live in a desert after all.

Can you count on two hands how many times you have heard, “Thank God for the rain, we really need it,” this past month? Or every summer for that matter.

“Colorado is a dry state and we faced a serious situation this spring with the draught,” says Aaron Carlson. “Water is a huge part of the brewing process and for the most part brewers are very aware of their water footprint and are taking steps to reduce it.”

Gargantuan brewery Molson Coors owns many of the water rights in Golden, but they are not bogarting water. Since the beginning of Coors, water has been the focus, not just because quality of beer is directly related to quality of water, but also because the brewery is concerned with ensuring water as a sustainable resource. Every year they invest a substantial amount in water conservation research, strategy, and implementation.

Between 2009 and 2012, Molson Coors reduced total water consumption by over 12.6 million hectoliters, roughly equivalent to 504 Olympic swimming pools, according to the company’s website.

Over the last decade, Denver has become a global hub for water conservation with massive consulting firms and utilities companies setting up headquarters in the city, but water has run deep in the veins of Coloradans for decades.

Through events like The Endless Summer and Festival for Water – stay tuned for Festival 2.0 in June 2014 – Water for People hopes to build a tribe of advocates who can continue to emphasize the importance of water both in Colorado and globally.

A portion of each ticket sold for The Endless Summer event on Friday, featuring 12 breweries, six distilleries, fare from local restaurants, plus live music, will directly support Water for People’s efforts worldwide.

Water for People is currently focused on providing water to communities in Rwanda, Uganda, Malawi, India, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala. What’s great about this Denver organization is they don’t just set up a water system, but they teach the community how to use it, fix it, and most importantly how to use water in a sustainable way.

Water for People’s “Everyone Forever” program, focused on providing water to every person in a designated area, has been so successful that national governments in Bolivia, and soon Rwanda, are considering Water for People’s program as their national water program.

“In Honduras, the model demonstrated in four districts has led to the replication of Everyone Forever in a further nine districts NOT supported by Water for People,” says CEO Ned Breslin. “Having the support of our local community is very important in helping us achieve our goals.”

About Sarah Haughey


Editor, Denver off the Wagon. Sarah is a native of the "Napa Valley of beer," but her beer-drinking roots stretch all the way back to the Emerald Isle where Haughey (Haw-hee) is famous. Sure, our name may have got it's rap from the corrupt prime minister, but we like to think it stands strong due to our long-standing ability to pound a few too many pints. After stints on the East Coast and in San Francisco, Sarah came running back to Denver where her full-time job is exploring all the city's new craft breweries one sip at a time. Follow me @sarahhaughey4 to see where I'm grabbing a beer or for news about local breweries. Like to cook? Me too, check out: Lifewithalittlespice.com

  • Brew.by

    Great article!