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We’ve drunk our fair share of interesting beers over the years. But if we had found ourselves at the San Diego International Airport back in 2019, we might have sampled a beer made with condensate water reclaimed from air-conditioning units attached to boarding bridges.
Yeah, that’s right. Beer made with drops of water that normally end up in a puddle on the tarmac. Local brewery Ballast Point partnered with Water Works, Inc., a water purification company, to brew SAN Test Pilot.
“Demand for SAN Test Pilot beer was strong and, unfortunately, it sold out in just a few weeks,” wrote Jonathan Heller, the airport’s director of communications, in an email after we asked if it was still on tap.
Heller also told us that the airport’s environmental affairs team had been collecting the condensate water since 2014, and those “drips” added up to 100,000 gallons per year across 18 of the most heavily used boarding bridges in Terminals 1 and 2.
The reclaimed water typically ended being used to wash sidewalks, building exteriors and ground support equipment.
The airport’s condensate water is quite pure, with total dissolved solids of 9 parts per million, a great deal purer than the San Diego municipal water supply, which is about 600 parts per million, according to some press material Heller also sent us.
After Water Works purified the water further, however, Ballast Point did its part to craft a beer that was described as a 5.8-percent ABV "Kӧlsh with Dortmunder Export characteristics," for "a light and crisp brew with notes of ripe fruit.