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What the Frack? The Surprising Connection Between Clean Water and Good Beer

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By Briana Kurtz, HRN Writer

Its never a bad time for a beer. But this week its official! It's beer week ladies and gentlemen! From IPAs and Porters to Saisons and German Helles, there is something for everyone on the beer spectrum. While styles and personal preferences may vary the base for all beers is the same; malt, hops, yeast and water. This last one often gets overlooked but beer is actually about 90 percent water. To produce their brews, beer makers are very dedicated to their local water sources. But clean water is becoming more and more of an issue these days with threats from the oil and gas industry. This has resulted in breweries becoming unlikely water warriors in the fight for clean water.

One of the main threats to clean water comes from the fracking industry. Fracking is the process of drilling -- into the earth and blasting highly pressurized water that has been induced with dozens of chemicals to extract natural gas. In 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency linked contaminated drinking water with fracking in Wyoming. And in 2012, a report lead by Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment, presented evidence linking chemicals in Pennsylvania's drinking water to fracking. This is what has brewers concerned across the US. Industry stalwarts like Ommegang Brewery in New York and Bell's Brewery in Michigan know that bad water equals bad beer. Or more even frightening, no beer. If water supplies are contaminated some breweries will be left with few options to keep their doors open.

The clean water for clean beer issue is not just present here in the U.S. Recently, Germany, with pressure from its influential beer industry, placed a temporary ban on fracking until the effects of the process are better understood. As we have seen, this problem does not affect one brewery, in one place, for one moment in time. This is a beer industry issue.

To learn more about water and beer issues tune in to Heritage Radio Network.org:

News: What the Frack? -- play episode

In order to make safe, and yummy beer, safe and clean water is a must for brewers. But water is at risk in many areas from the oil and gas industry and its time for brewers to fight back.

Health: Episode 34: Clean Water, Good Beer -- play episode

On episode 160 of Beer Sessions Radio, Jennifer Grossman drops by to talk about the glut of clean water that New York brewers have at their disposal, and why it's important to preserve the flow from the Catskills.

Beer Sessions: Episode 102: How Beer Can Save The World -- play episode

This week on Beer Sessions Radio investigates that one ingredient that, though oft overlooked, without which beer could not exist: water. This episode investigates the water footprint it takes to run a brewery, what they're doing to become sustainable, and how and why water is so important in creating the flavor profile of a good beer.

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