The Most Important Ingredient in this Beer Is Fog

By Mike Pomranz |
FWX MAKING BEER WITH FOG

© Oleksiy Maksymenko Photography / Alamy

The town of Pena Blanca in Chile suffers from so little rainfall that the region has undergone almost complete desertification. Since water comprises some 97 percent of beer that makes Pena Blanca a challenging place to open a brewery. But thanks to a technique known as “fog catching,” not only has the region captured enough water to support plant life, there’s also enough to whip up a few brews.

According to the BBC, Fog Catcher Brewery only has three vats, producing only about 200 barrels a year. But there’s something special about these beers: They’re all made from water captured from fog. “The water from the camanchaca is of excellent quality and gives our beer a special quality," said Miguel Carcuro, the brewery’s owner.

“Camanchaca” is what Chilean locals call the costal fogs that come inland off Chile’s shore. Since 1956, scientists have been capturing this fog to help supplement what little rain actually falls. That year, Carlos Espinosa Arancibia developed the “fog catcher” – a netting with one millimeter openings, just tiny enough to capture water droplets suspended in the air. As these droplets build on each other, gravity eventually takes hold and the water drops into pipes below.

Pena Blanca was ground zero for fog catcher research back in the ‘80s but other parched places around the globe have tried these systems since and their use is continuing to expand. “I dream of the day in which the fog catchers can compete with desalination plants, which are not environmentally friendly,” University of Chile professor Pilar Cerecda was quoted as saying.

Hey, if it’s good enough for making small batch artisanal beer, it’s good enough for me.

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