German Brewers Fear Fracking Could Damage Centuries-Old Industry

More research is needed to determine whether fracking compromises water quality.

Researchers found that a 61-year-old Texas man became inexplicably drunk without having consumed alcohol due of an over abundance of brewer’s yeast in his gut

Researchers found that a 61-year-old Texas man became inexplicably drunk without having consumed alcohol due of an over abundance of brewer’s yeast in his gut

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In a truly horrifying prospect for beer drinkers of all stripes, German producers are warning the controversial oil and gas extraction technique called hydraulic fracturing - known commonly as fracking - could ruin the nation's iconic brewing industry by contaminating water used in production.

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As the United States continues to enjoy the economic benefits of developing its shale oil and gas reserves thanks to fracking, there has been increasing pressure on policymakers in some European countries to explore the approach, which involves injecting a cocktail of pressurized water, sand and small amounts of chemicals into the ground to release oil and gas. As a result, many countries - including Germany - are drafting legislation to regulate the practice while others, such as France, have completely banned fracking with their borders.

Now as debate over the practice heats up across the pond, the Brauer-Bund beer association is lobbying government leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, against the practice. They argue any law allowing fracking could pollute water used in the brewing process and jeopardize a 500-year-old industry rule on water purity, according to the British newspaper Telegraph.

Under the centuries-old water purity law known as "Reinheitsgebot," beer makers can only produce their bubbly product using malt, hops, yeast and water. The last crucial ingredient is the rub, according to brewers.

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"The water has to be pure and more than half [of] Germany's brewers have their own wells, which are situated outside areas that could be protected under the government's current planned legislation on fracking," a Brauer-Bund spokesman told the Telegraph.

"You cannot be sure that the water won't be polluted by chemicals, so we have urged the government to carry out more research before it goes ahead with the fracking law," the spokesman added.

Europe's largest producer and third-largest consumer of beer after the Czech Republic and Austria, Germany has more than 1,300 breweries producing about 5,000 varieties of beers, according to Brauer-Bund.

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