With an increasing awareness of food waste come innovative schemes to recycle what we eat and drink. However, the most sustainable options aren’t always the most appealing. That’s certainly the case with Danish microbrewery Nørrebro Bryghus, which has made a new type of beer from human urine.Nørrebro Bryghus was founded in 2003 in Copenhagen, and now has more than 200 beers to its name, as well as functioning cafe within the same walls. The brewhouse describes itself as “the fairytale of a small local brewery that grew strong”.
The “shining beacon in the young and exciting beer culture” explain their philosophy:“The ambition, beer wise, was to influence people’s attitude towards beer. We wanted to open their eyes to the wonderful experiences and flavours emanating from the Belgian, German, English and most importantly the new US craft brewing scene – as well as fostering weird and wonderful beers with Nordic accents.”“Weird and wonderful” is at least half-right in this instance, though it has been getting a more positive response than you would expect. The production of 60,000 bottles of the limited edition beer was backed by Denmark’s Agriculture and Food Council, who have refer to the enterprise as “Beercycling”.Karen Hækkerup, CEO at the Danish Agriculture and Food Council, explained their support:“Just as we have seen shops sell goods that would otherwise have been thrown out , Beercycling allows us to recycle a product that is normally flushed down the drain. When it comes to circular economy, Danish farmers are some of the best in the world. If you can brew a beer with urine as fertiliser, you can recycle almost anything”
The transition into recycling was made after the company moved into using organic products four years ago. Nørrebro Bryghus’s Chief Executive Henrik Vang told the International Business Times that “we wanted to test our brewers ability to make recycled beers”.
The lager is named ‘Pisner’, a play on the words Pilsner and the Danish single S spelling of the slang term for urine. For those of you wondering why anyone would bother drinking the new lager, the final product does not contain actually contain any human waste. The urine is not filtered into the drink, but used in the brewing process in the place of fertilizer.Instead of manure or factory-produced nutrients, the urine is used to fertilise the malting barley. Henrik Vang set the story straight when he talked to Reuters:“When the news that we had started brewing the Pisner came out, a lot of people thought we were filtering the urine to put it directly in the beer – and we had a good laugh about that”.So where did they get the 50,000 litres of urine necessary to create the strange new brand of lager? Northern Europe’s largest music festival, it turns out. 2015’s Roskilde Music Festival, which was headlined by Kendrick Lamar and Disclosure, was the key contributor to the cause. One festival attendee and brave tester said: “If it had tasted even a bit like urine, I would put it down, but you don’t even notice”.
“It is interesting to partake in a project,” Vang expressed, “which addresses the challenges of sustainability and circular economy”. For anyone hoping to see Arcade Fire or A Tribe Called Quest at Roskilde this year, there’s no need to worry; there are no plans to collect any waste from the festival in 2017.