Beer of the Week: Preflight Pils

East Village Brewing teams uses airport's AC condensate to brew beer, save water

From the Beer Writer: Holiday get-togethers produce some of the most interesting–and odd–family discussions. During the Christmas break, my wife and I had family over and one such convo developed when I mentioned that downtown’s East Village Brewing had just made a pair of beers using purified condensate captured from air-conditioning units at San Diego International Airport. I thought it was pretty interesting–cool, even–that the airport’s water stewardship program had yielded these first-of-their-kind creations, and was surprised to find that what I thought was revolutionary and admirable from an environmental standpoint came across as revolting to one of my in-laws. Keep in mind, this is the only member of my entire family who has an affinity for craft beer and an appreciation for the subject I’ve devoted my life and livelihood to. IPAs are his jam. If they’re local, all the better. So he gets it…but he does not get these beers. Or at least he won’t. After hearing the aforementioned news item he told me there was no way he’d ever drink either of them. As someone who’s drunk beer made with numerous forms of reclaimed and rehabilitated water–we’re talking toilet-to-tap, people–I had no qualms about it, but thanks to my familial yuletide exchange, I realize some people might. To those who are wary of such beers, I’d remind you that the process developed to purify the source water is extensive and the result of years of development that’s been scrutinized every step of the way to ensure public safety. I’d venture it’s even safer than the water that’s typically used to produce beer, a process which also requires prolonged boiling; one of the reasons beer has been safer than suspect water at many times and places in world history. So, now that you feel safer about airport A/C ales, it’s time to answer the obvious, more important question: how do they taste? Enter this week’s featured beer, Preflight Pils. A German-style pilsner with a minerally bouquet, clean texture and a remarkably snappy finish, it is hands-down one of the best examples of a Bavarian pils in all of San Diego. Stow its scientific and ecological aspects in the overhead bin and enjoy this archetypal delight. Preflight and its companion beer (see what I did here), Hoppy Travels IPA, are both available at East Village’s taproom and on tap at Terminal 2 in the airport.

From the Brewer: “As a former meteorologist, I still regularly track local weather and climate. Over the past couple years, La Niña has put the entire state of California back into moderate-to-severe drought conditions. Water conservation continues to remain an important topic across most of the Western United States. If you talk with any barley or hop farmer, they will also tell you about these long-term trends and how they negatively impact their businesses. We are excited to work with the San Diego International Airport to showcase their innovative ways to reduce their water footprint. With this ongoing partnership, we should be able to reduce our brewery’s water usage by 5-10%. Air-conditioner condensate has roughly the same quality as rainwater. By the time it was ultrafiltered and purified, this water was perfect for lager brewing. The softness allows for a dry and crisp finish and helps produce a long lasting, foamy head.”—Aaron Justus, Co-owner & Brewmaster, East Village Brewing

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