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MillerCoors In Fort Worth Is Saving Water While Brewing Beer

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The drought has tested industries across Texas in the last few years -- and it's even had an impact on beer.

One of MillerCoors' mega-breweries is in south Fort Worth, and last year it produced 9 million barrels of beer. Environmental and sustainability engineer Lairy Johnson says the plant cut its water use by 9 percent.

Interview Highlights: Lairy Johnson:

...on how much water the Fort Worth plant uses a year:

"In a year, we use about 750 million gallons, but what we like to do is talk about how many barrels of water does it take to make a barrel of beer. In this past month we were about 3.18 barrels per barrel, 3.27 I think was our number last year for the average and 3.21 is the year to date.”

…on how a brewery cuts back on water use:

“We start looking at things like are you turning off all the air compressors, are you making sure when you leave your hose that your hose is in the off position – that you’re not running water. We use boilers to create steam, to do our cooking and make our beer. We came up with the idea: ‘Hey, do we really need two boilers and a backup fired?’ and the employees did the numbers and came back with: 'No, we only need two.' So that was a huge, significant reduction.”

…on how the plant deals with drought affecting taste of water:

“We can tell what lake the water is coming from things like water chemistry, alkalinity, pH. When you brew beer, you’re trying to brew beer back to the type location of the beer. We do have to soften the water, condition the water and so forth to make the best beer possible.”

Justin Martin is KERA’s local host of All Things Considered, anchoring afternoon newscasts for KERA 90.1. Justin grew up in Mannheim, Germany, and avidly listened to the Voice of America and National Public Radio whenever stateside. He graduated from the American Broadcasting School, and further polished his skills with radio veteran Kris Anderson of the Mighty 690 fame, a 50,000 watt border-blaster operating out of Tijuana, Mexico. Justin has worked as holiday anchor for the USA Radio Network, serving the U.S. Armed Forces Network. He’s also hosted, produced, and engineered several shows, including the Southern Gospel Jubilee on 660 KSKY.