At Bench, we are proud of where we are from. We are surrounded by some of the most amazing orchards, vineyards and farms in the country. Many of these neighbouring farmers and families have been sustainably growing fruit for over 200 years, and as part of this community, we must be just as focused on being stewards of the land. Sustainability is engrained in our brewing culture at Bench, and we quickly established our mantra of Conserve, Recycle, and Reuse.
It takes a lot of water to make beer. Water can account for up to 95 percent of beer’s content, and water is used in every step of the brewing process. In brewing, the industry average is about 8 litres of water used for every litre of beer produced. At Bench, our commitment is to to use as little water as possible. Currently that is 5 litres of water for every 1 litre of beer. Our goal is to get that ratio down to a 4:1 ratio. Every Drop Counts.
Being in a rural setting, we are not connected to a municipal waste water sanitary system. Hauling waste water to a treatment plan was also not a viable option for us due to the unnecessary carbon emissions that it would cause. So one of our biggest initial challenges was devising an environmentally friendly solution for our waste water.
That solution was a custom water purification system that treats all of our brewery wastewater onsite. Wastewater that is eligible for treatment consists of water used for cleaning, brewing and packaging. We also make sure to side stream all of our hops and yeast to make the brewery waste water easier to treat and of the highest quality before it enters the purification system.
The system utilizes a series of traditional purification methods such as UV, Ozone and Reverse Osmosis to clean our brewery waste water to a level that is suitable for irrigation as well as fertilizer with the residual organics left from the purification process. This organic material resulting from the purification process, as well as the spent hops and yeast create a nutrient rich slurry that is then applied to our hops field as well as our neighbouring apple orchard, fruit farms and vineyards as fertilizer.
We have also achieved an Environmental Compliance Approval Certificate from the Ministry of the Environment that requires rigorous testing procedures and oversight to ensure a healthy program for our crops and the environment.
Domestic waste from the washrooms and kitchen never mixes with our brewery wastewater. While the brewery effluent goes to the water barn purification system, the domestic waste goes to our onsite Aqua Wetland System – a natural aerobic digester that breaks down the waste before we then transfer in to a bio-filter system or traditional septic system that cleans the water before sending into the tile bed and soil. Our AWS and Bio-Filter systems are connected directly to our brewery as well as through a force main that travels underneath the hops yard.
Once brewery wastewater is treated by our water purification system, we then use it to irrigate our hops field as well as our neighbouring apple orchard, fruit farm and vineyards that spans approximately 170 acres. The cherries, plums, and peaches grown on these farms are used as ingredients for our beers creating a wonderful circle of sustainability.
The water is applied directly to the fields during the growing season by our trickle irrigation systems. In the winter, the water is stored in a large retention pond to be used again in the spring. The retention pond is connected by a 1 km long pipe that runs below the frost line, 4 feet below our hops yard and over to the pond located on Cherry Avenue. We are currently treating and reusing up to 15,000L per day.
In another effort to re-use materials, all of our spent grains from the brewing process are given to a local farmer who uses it to feed his livestock all year round.
Water is a precious resource that we cherish and strive to use in a sustainable manner for brewing and irrigation of our land and crops. At Bench, we are very proud of our Conserve, Recycle and Reuse philosophy that has resulted in a Zero Waste Water brewing platform.