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Jun 6, 2014 02:10 PM

Hydraulic fracturing Germany and Brewers.

It might be of interest to many, or a few, that one of the strongest oppositions to Germany's recent policy to begin fracturing for oil, is the brewing industry.

I read this in Tuesday's Financial Times.

This makes sense.

a Reuters article reads "German brewers warn fracking could hurt beer industry"

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  1. Not surprising given fracking's pollution of groundwater.

    23 Replies
    1. re: Josh

      Given the extent of fracking going on in this country, if that were widely true the beer from many states would be undrinkable and you would be reading widespread reports about contamination.

      Will some groundwater contamination happen from fracking? Sure, no industrial activity is 100% safe. But contamination problems are rather isolated and more the result of poor individual practices than a problem with the technology.

      1. re: brentk

        "beer from many states would be undrinkable"

        This is true, though fortunately, not from contamination.

        The trade off for pretending craft beer is of value beyond the beer from regions that have been brewing for over 500 years, is a bit of revenue offered to the brewers, collective or shared contemporary myth, that entertains Europeans.

        It is a kind of simulacrum.

        So, drinkable, for some, and undrinkable for others, though not due, thankfully, to "fracking's pollution of groundwater".

        Drink up, "Happy Hour is now enforced by law"-Jello Biafra

            1. re: MVNYC

              Baltica is something I only have partaken of, when buying beer in the store.

              Not in NYC, but just a few years ago, I bought the large plastic bottle of the Baltica 9. I loved it.

              At the same time, a local merchant was buying beer on my recommend, and he was introducing me to at the same time to beer he drank in his younger days, in India. Haywards 5000 for example. I had him get the Baltica, and some Polish beers.

              Now, from time to time, I drink some Baltica.

              1. re: MVNYC

                The Revolution begins....with Re Ale and a tap worth of delights from overseas.

                I have never had Six Points.

                Is it good? It is one of the minorities of domestics at Water Street. I am wondering if Thomas Paine drank here. And if he did, was he getting drunk and making denouncements of the King?

                What beer was served there when Tom Paine drank there?

                My recommend is to get down there and order up pints of Oyster Stout....and others. They have Hennepin (Farmhouse Saison)and other Ommegang.

                Guidelines, frackless beer comes from these places:


                1. re: MVNYC

                  The Russian bartender, a lady, last evening, stated she and her college mates from the girls dorm, would load up on Baltica 9, then head to the club.

                  8 % alcohol, and not a bad flavor.

                  For the record, I had a Checvar last evening. Budvar in other places. Crispy and fresh, and on tap.

                  1. re: jonkyo

                    Checvar meaing Czechvar :

                    "The Czech "Budweiser" as marketed in North America"

              2. re: brentk

                That's kind of a glib response with a lot of assumptions buried in it.

                Here's a story about the topic from the Guardian:

                'Since last summer, its brewers association has been lobbying the environment minister, Barbara Hendricks, to update the water protection law to include even smaller brewers' wells and private mineral springs, further threatening the commercial viability of fracking in Germany. It appeared to work. A spokesman for the environment ministry said it intended to "considerably tighten" legislation around fracking.'

                I would doubt that many American brewers are using their own wells for brewing water. Breweries here seem to usually be located in larger municipalities with water utilities, where fracking activities seem to typically take place in more rural communities where people do drill their own wells.

                IMO we should be very concerned about fracking, because we don't know what these chemicals are that are being injected into the ground or what their long-term health effects may be. The reports from people who live in proximity to fracking operations aren't exactly reassuring.

                I'd be interested to know how any small breweries in North Carolina dealt with the recent spill by Freedom Industries of their coal-washing compound that leaked into a major river just above the intake for the municipal water supply. With orders not to drink the water, I would guess that would have covered beer making as well.

                1. re: Josh

                  I am happy you posted this.

                  ""For brewers fracking could spell the end of our existence," -Friederike Borchert

                  The larger picture is something I have recently come to think. This is oil, and the auto industry is (has been) littering human existence, and contributing largely to the denigration of life on earth for humans and our furry, as well as other life friends.

                  Roads of asphalt, parking lots, and the culture (lack of it) that has grown up around them, here in the US, as well as other places, are stains that will need more than tide, if people ever wake up.

                  But more to the point here, without going off topic, there is something to consider, regarding fracking.

                  Thus said,

                  "Breweries here seem to usually be located in larger municipalities with water utilities, where fracking activities seem to typically take place in more rural communities where people do drill their own wells."

                  None the less as you state:

                  ".... we don't know what these chemicals are that are being injected into the ground or what their long-term health effects may be."

                  For some reasons, that could be not too difficult to figure out, there is an absence of true concern in large numbers, of people, who personally identify with themselves as being primary customers of small brewers of craft.

                  This is the function of protest in the society we live in.

                  It is reported, the protests and activism, and it contents the majority (while the consumerism and Time Warner placate them). This makes the majority feel that "we are free" and that "someone is doing something".

                  But protesters did not stop the Vietnam War, nor the Iraqi deployment. Protesters will not be stopping nor regulating these chemicals that may to one extent or another, affect groundwater, and our beloved breweries results.

                  Thanks for the article and your statements.

                  1. re: Josh

                    Both Britain and Germany are part of the EU and the EU has already established regulations about this ( Companies cannot just do fracking without permission and without controls.

                    1. re: ThomasvanDale

                      These rules may be overturned as Europe tries to undermine the economy of Russia, due to the fight over autonomy vs. NATO-EU expansion.

                      The FT article, seemed to point to this. Thus brewers are organizing even now, when there is just talk about fracking.

                      Then again, it might be a fight, to start fracking there, due to the potency people have in Europe as opposed to sheeple in the US.

                      1. re: jonkyo

                        Not to be a jerk here, but I can tell that you guys have not actually delved into the objective literature on fracking. I'm talking about the body of work being generated by the EPA and international counterparts. This research paints a less clear picture, though certainly not a purely rosy one. If your primary sources for information are already anti-fracking de facto, how do you expect to get a rounded picture of the arguments, both pro and con. In my experience, most people decide what they want to believe based on instinct, and then they go and seek out evidence that supports their belief while assiduously ignoring contrary evidence. We owe it to ourselves to scrutinize the points on both sides a bit more deeply if we care about our culinary priorities, no? ;)

                        The chemicals used in fracking are not a mystery. Both in the US and the EU, fracking companies are required to disclose them.

                        These chemicals, if they enter a well monitored water supply (this is of course an important caveat) such as a municipal water supply that regularly does testing, would -immediately- show up. When they show up, and if they are harmful to human consumption (which many are), measures can readily be taken to mitigate the issue, and in most cases the offending company can be and is heavily punished.

                        The problem primarily lies in un monitored private water systems. However, to keep on topic here, having lived in Germany for about 16 years, the idea that breweries are NOT monitoring their water supplies is ludicrous. Quality controls on german beer are extremely high. If brewers aren't monitoring their water supply for trace chemicals, I'd be completely shocked. It might be more expensive to increase their monitoring, which is an economic argument, but we're not talking about some vague "we have no idea what to look for!" scenario.

                        In any case, there's a big difference between a "fracking, should we do it at all" argument and "fracking, will it pollute german beer" argument. On the latter, regardless of how I might feel about the former, I really doubt it. Especially considering that the environmental laws in much of the EU (and especially Germany) are incredibly tight. However, since Germany decided to stop pursuing Nuclear, they don't really have a lot of options. This is real-politik.

                        1. re: fr1p

                          It's an unfortunate development, this completely bogus notion of "objectivity". It's pretty much a PR-industry derived notion, used like a hammer to bludgeon anyone who takes a position on an issue that runs counter to industry narratives. At one time cigarettes weren't considered to be a public health threat. Even today the USDA won't properly label sugar content on food labels because of industry pressure.

                          At some point we will be forced to confront the fact that we cannot continue to despoil the resources we depend on for survival.

                          1. re: Josh


                            "As natural gas exploration continues, it must be done in a way that ensures the drilling byproducts are treated and disposed of safely and legally," he said. "This case demonstrates that if companies and their owners skirt environmental laws, EPA will hold them accountable."

                            But this does not ensure that chemicals are not seeping into th ground during the process.

                          2. re: fr1p

                            Well, if anything, an article or two will come out and blame it on Putin and his taking back Crimea.

                            I blame it on the industries that basically control the policies, and are historically rooted in gaining maga-huge amounts of wealth in something that was long ago made to be an established daily commodity: oil.

                            Fracking is quite bad. I have lived in places with poor economic policy, due to industrial interests. The US is going that way, for fracking. They frack in low income areas, rural of course. Jobs, development, box stores.

                            The point of beer, and it being brewed locally, all over the place, may be something to highlight the overall issue.

                            In polluted European urban centres in say 1500, many people did not drink the water due to natural pollutants, so they drank beer, and the hard stuff. Coffee came along and they began drinking that.

                            Boiling frack polluted water will give you boiled polluted water.

                            Here is a related thread:


                            1. re: fr1p

                              "However, since Germany decided to stop pursuing Nuclear, they don't really have a lot of options. This is real-politik."

                              Sure they do, be at the mercy of energy exporting countries, many of which have sparse environmental regulations / enforcement, and leave the mess in their back yard.

                            2. re: jonkyo

                              The FT is a UK publication. The current government of the UK is trying to convince British people they would be better off without the EU. Some of their criticisms are valid and some are ridiculous. This one is ridiculous because the EU has no foreign policy, and never has.

                              Considering that over 66 percent of Europeans (in a poll run by the EU) were either opposed to fracking or opposed to fracking without controls, the chances of these regulations getting weaker is very small, to say the least.

                              1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                Well, here in the US, the regulations for craft beer, are sometimes steep.

                                I wonder if fracking is a steeped in regulation as craft beer operations are:

                                R"ecently, Evan Feinberg of Generation Opportunity described some of the barriers craft brewers face. In one instance, a brewer — who does not prepare any food — was told he had to install a hood for a food oven that he did not even own. Another brewer — who does not use poultry in his beer — was nearly kept from operating because he did not have the equipment to handle raw chicken. "


                                Let us see:

                                "Safe Drinking Water Act
                                The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) mandates regulation of underground injection activities in order to protect groundwater resources. SDWA Sec. 1421, 42 U.S.C. § 300h. However, in the 2005 Energy Policy Act, which arose out of Vice President Cheney’s Energy Task Force, Congress amended the definition of “underground injection” under the SDWA to specifically exclude “the underground injection of fluids or propping agents (other than diesel fuels) pursuant to hydraulic fracturing operations related to oil, gas, or geothermal production activities.” § 300h(d)(1)(B)(ii).

                                Under this exemption, oil and gas companies can now inject anything other than diesel in association with fracking operations without having to comply with SDWA provisions intended to protect our nation’s water supplies."-

                                Well, then it seems quite loopy.

                                Drink up.....

                                Craft beer now has more one expected.

                                1. re: jonkyo

                                  The US and Europe are quite different in many ways. Just because the US does something is no indication that Europe will follow. More and more over the past years, the roads taken by the two continents have been moving apart (and as a European, I must say I am quite happy about that).

                          3. re: Josh

                            "IMO we should be very concerned about fracking, because we don't know what these chemicals are that are being injected into the ground or what their long-term health effects may be."

                            Are you sure you want to stick with this statement?

                            1. re: Tom34

                              What would you suggest instead?

                              1. re: Josh

                                Most obvious answer is to use less......more fuel efficient transportation, appliances & homes.

                                In the US, any builder will tell you that given the option of spending $15K on an energy star home package upgrade or a custom kitchen upgrade the custom kitchen wins out 95% of the time.

                                Energy independence is critical for a countries economy & national security. I am not saying be reckless but the fact remains carbon based energy is not environmentally friendly. All options have to be studied and a master plan has to be put in place to meet a Countries needs.