A core tenet of Washington County's water reuse program is that water should be judged on its quality, not its history.

That's a smart line to toe, considering a big part of the program involves converting sewage water into beer.

The county's Clean Water Services utility treats nearly 60 million gallons of wastewater at its facility in Tigard each day. But engaging the public on sustainable water practices can only go so far if you mostly use it to irrigate golf courses.

"If you want people to talk about water," Art Larrance, owner of Cascade Brewing, told the committee in 2015, "you've got to make beer."

The argument was compelling enough that Clean Water Services augmented the program, creating a mobile treatment system dubbed the "Pure Water Wagon" to recycle small amounts of water specifically for brewing beer.

(Paola de la Cruz)
(Paola de la Cruz)

At the time, the county was permitted to work only with homebrewers, but the strategy worked—Mark Jockers, government and public affairs director of Clean Water Services, says the office was "overwhelmed" by media inquiries.

Now, the program is expanding—at this year's Oregon Brewers Festival, it will provide the highly purified water to eight participating breweries.

But while the process results in "the world's most sustainable beer," the result flavor-wise is negligible to the untrained palate.

"It tastes like beer," Jockers says. "The only thing remarkable about this story is, it's not remarkable at all."

32 Reasons to love Portland (wesley Lapointe)
32 Reasons to love Portland (wesley Lapointe)