The hydraulic fracturing industry has acquired an unexpected opponent: German breweries say that fracking operations could ruin their beer industry. Fracking operations are on the rise, and beer craftsmen are concerned, according to Newsweek. Wine makers mirror the German breweries’ opposition to fracking operations as well.
What if even small amounts of toxic fracking chemicals from fracking operations enter into beer and wine maker’s water supplies?
It’s a legitimate concern. Energy companies don’t disclose trade secrets, so most beer and wine makers are in the dark about what chemicals could end up in their water. Here in the U.S., water contamination from fracking operations have already been confirmed. Energy Biz reported that studies by three major universities in the U.S. indicate that German brewers have every reason to worry about ground water contamination and the future of their beer industry if fracking operations get more comfortable fracking German shale.
“Germany is a beer nation: if their beer has no flavor, people will mount the barricades,” Friederike Borchert told The Guardian. Her family owns a brewery in Lünne, Lower Saxony. She is worried that the family’s brewery which crafts a dark beer, a light pilsner, and a buckwheat brew is threatened. A few years ago ExxonMobil started a test drill in a field down the road from her family’s brewery. “For brewers, fracking could spell the end of our existence,” she said. She explained that water used for brewing German beer has to be “even cleaner drinking water.” She claims that before fracking operations cause physical contamination in Germany’s ground water ruining German beer, the mere fear of contamination could destroy a local brewer’s reputation.
TakePart‘s food editor Willy Blackmore writes:
“Fracking is banned in Germany until 2021, but with Chancellor Angela Merkel and others in the government appearing to be tempted by the country’s significant natural gas reserves, an opposition movement is being built around the national beverage. Because without clean German groundwater, you can’t have German beer.”
In 1487, the Bavarian Purity Law stated that only water, barley, and hops were allowed to be used in the production of beer. The law has adapted over the centuries slightly as the craft evolved, but no part in the German beer brewing process can correct groundwater contamination by fracking operations. This gives brewers legal leverage against fracking operations. Beer is a major source of Germany’s economic strength and cultural pride.
“Beer is a craft that we Germans have learned well, but it relies on nature to provide the products,” Sven Foerster, of Foersters Feine Biere in Germany, told Newsweek.”Hops, barley malt, yeast and, most important of all, water. Poison the well and you poison the product. Our beer is part of our life, our national soul.”
This year, a Texas family was awarded millions of dollars after toxins from fracking operations drove them from their home, and even the slightest contaminant in Germany’s ground water could destroy local breweries’ beer for good.
[Photo via Guide 2 Bristol]