Turning Urine Into Beer (For a Change)

Do you like extremely innovative beers? Do you consider yourself environmentally conscious? Well…urine luck! (And if you’re not a big fan of beer, well, then this probably isn’t going to be the beer that grabs you.)

Roskilde Music Festival

In 2015, more than 100,000 music fans traveled to Denmark for the Roskilde Music Festival. The largest rock festival in northern Europe, that year’s iteration featured headliners Paul McCartney, Kendrick Lamar, and Muse. Those fans left with great memories of great performances, but they also left behind tens of thousands of liters of urine in portable toilets.

Beercycling

Not content with just throwing it out for some reason, Denmark’s Agriculture and Food Council came up with another idea: recycle all that urine. Or, as they called it “beercycling,” using one of the most sustainable natural resources on Earth to make beer. That’s right—50,000 liters (or about 13,200 gallons) of pee was used to make a special run of beer.

Pisner. No, not Pilsner.

All that urine (which is 95 percent water and sterile) was given over to Danish brewery Norrebro Bryghus, which used it to brew a 60,000-bottle batch of a beer called Pisner. No, not Pilsner. Check the spelling—it’s Pisner. That’s just a little bit of clever wordplay alluding to the beer’s most notable contributor. Okay, so it’s not like they just poured 50,000 liters of urine into their brew tanks, tossed in the barley and yeast, and let it go. Norrebro Bryghus used the free pee to fertilize the fields of barley it used to brew the beer. And it’s really not so gross, considering that beer-grade barley is otherwise usually fertilized with fresh animal manure.

The Circle of Life

The beer reportedly tastes just fine—not the least bit like pee, say those who have tried it. Even a few people who attended the 2015 Roskilde Music Festival, and presumably peed there, got to sample some Pisner—thus completing the circle of life.