Local brewers to make beer using water generated out of thin air

UCSD scientists create water through condensation


San Diego area craft breweries will soon start getting one of their main ingredients out of thin air.  It’s all thanks to a big blue machine that’s creating clean drinking water through condensation on the UCSD Medical Center campus.

“That’s an ambient water maker,” said Master Water Specialist John Wammes.

Wammes said the large blue box, which is about the size of a passenger van, uses air conditioner coils to generate condensation.

“Just like you would condense water on the outside of a cold beer can on a hot day,” explained Wammes, who also teaches at UCSD.

The machine creates and stores upwards of 400-gallons of purified water. It’s cleaner than the water delivered to your home.

“It’s as close to H2O as it gets,” said Wammes.

One building on the UCSD Medical Center campus already has a system that collects the condensation of the master air conditioners. It’s collecting upwards of 10,000-gallons a day.

Right now, that water is used for landscaping.  However, that is thousands of gallons of water UCSD does not have to buy from the City of San Diego.

To help prove the usefulness of the condensation, UCSD is collaborating with local breweries to produce craft beer with the water source.

“Normally we would pay for this with the reverse osmosis system that’s very expensive,” said Ballast Point Director of Research & Development Julia Cain. “Any chance we get to try something new and different, that’s what’s craft brewing is all about.”

Cain said the water’s purity allows them to add their own chemicals to mimic waters from around the world and brew beers never tasted before.

“This is a great opportunity for us to really do that experiment,” she said.

Wammes said the water out of the ambient water maker has only 7 PPM (particles per million).  By comparison, water from the City of San Diego has 700 particles per million.

Condensation-based beer will be brewed by Ballast Point, Stone Brewery, and Rock Bottom Brewery. Cain said Ballast Point’s beer should be ready by the end of May.

Print this article Back to Top