Costa Rica’s Imperial Silver Is the World’s First ‘Water Positive” Beer

Florida Ice & Farm Company/Shutterstock/Uproxx

This should be fairly obvious, but water conservation is an extremely important global issue. Even though much of the earth is covered in water, most of that is salt water. Some estimates say that only 3% is fresh water and only 1% is drinkable — a pretty significant problem with global population spiking. The issue of water conservation is exacerbated by droughts and pollution. We’ve already seen beer made from recycled water. But, a few months ago, Costa Rican-based Imperial Cerveza decided to produce the world’s first ever “water positive” beer.

“Imperial has managed to reduce in over 44% the consumption of water in its manufacturing process, with the help of investments in high technology equipment, and the establishment of good environmental practices regarding the adequate use of this vital liquid”, Gisela Sánchez, director of Corporate Relations for Florida Ice & Farm (the parent company of Imperial) told the Costa Rica Star back in March.

Specifically, Imperial overhauled its production, manufacturing, distribution, packaging, and recycling practices in order to lower its water footprint. The company also began to measure the amount of water it was using during all of these processes and strived to find ways to lower the number.

“What they did is they looked at all their brewing processes, all the processes of their suppliers and they reduced their water usage by 44 percent,” Imperial Ambassador Victor Rutstein told CBS Denver. “They did this while increasing the volume of their beer by 70 percent.”

This week, this “water positive” version of Imperial is finally available in the US, and Colorado is the first state to receive shipments. It’s called Imperial Silver and the company decided to pick the Rocky Mountain State because of its history of conservationism. “It shares a lot of our values around the environment, biodiversity and social values,” said Rutstein.

Back in Costa Rica, the company went so far as to actually pay landowners not to cut down trees. Thereby adding water to the Costa Rican watershed. This simple idea put Imperial into the “water neutral” territory. But, that wasn’t enough for the company as its goal was to reach “water positive” status.

“To be water positive, we have to give back more water than we use,” said Rutstein. They did this by bringing fresh water and solutions to areas in need of it — donating to water conservation and recycling initiatives. And they aren’t just doing this in Costa Rica. As part of the deal to bring the new beer to Colorado, the brand is helping add more than 62 million gallons of water to the Yampa River. “That’s 50 percent of the water needed there this summer,” says Rustein.

It makes it wonder what such a dramatic environmental statement means for the rest of the beer industry. Will one of the bigger brands step up and join the conservation discussion? Not even a Super Bowl commercial could give you better press than that.