Traditional German brewery reaches Texas permit standards
The founders of Altstadt Brewing Co. opened their brewery with a business plan focused on products produced with old world simplicity in an almost forgotten style, and found themselves with a need for a new world wastewater treatment solution.
Nestled in the heart of Texas Hill Country, a region settled by German immigrants 150 years ago, the Fredericksburg, Texas-based brewery is housed in a facility designed and built in the style of a traditional German brewery, with towering spires and steeply sloped roofs. Altstadt uses brewing equipment imported from Germany, hired a brewmaster from Germany, and brews its beer with a German traditional recipe, using only yeast, malt, hops and water.
The name “Altstadt” translates to “Old Town” in German, a nod to the region’s heritage and the brewers’ intentions when starting the company.
However, Altstadt had a new world challenge to overcome. The brewery needed to clean its wastewater to 55 mg of total organic carbon per liter to meet the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality permit requirements for water reuse and land application.
Further, the requirements had to be met while also leaving open a window for rapid expansion of the brewery with a limited footprint. This meant being rural-friendly with no unsightly and smelly lagoons or leach fields, which by their nature would use valuable acreage.
Altstadt Brewery solved its issue with a patented, biology-free ClearCapture system from Upstate New York-based ClearCove. Its installation in the first quarter of 2017 represented the first physical-chemical brewery wastewater treatment system in Texas.
ClearCapture eliminated the need for a full-time wastewater system operator. Brewers at Altstadt do not spend their hours worrying about the care and feeding, the density, or the health of bugs because the automated system is biology-free. Its automation provides warnings if permit- or brewer-established parameters are exceeded, and employees can get all the information they need instantly on a smartphone or tablet.
No biology also means the system can be shut down and easily restarted without impacting performance, or suffering from lag time waiting for new biology to grow.
Today, Altstadt treats up to 30,000 gal per day of process wastewater and recovers more than 90% of its wastewater for reuse purposes. In this case, reused water continually irrigates the well-groomed, expansive lawns surrounding the brewery.
“ClearCove’s innovative, biology-free technology is the easiest-to-operate wastewater treatment system I’ve seen in a brewery,” said Peter Koestler, Altstadt brewmaster. “This makes my life easier, allowing us to focus on brewing great beer as opposed to dealing with wastewater issues.”
Alstadt achieved permittted discharge requirements and water reuse objectives with effluent level composites of fewer than 75 ppm chemical oxygen demand, fewer than 15 ppm total organic compounds, zero total suspended solids, and fewer than 40 ppm total dissolved solids with a consistent pH near 7. This means low annual costs and an accelerating rate of return on capital investments.
In addition, Koestler and his team have the option to deliver the solids recovered in the system to a renewable energy anaerobic digester for electricity production.
All this, Koestler said, makes Altstadt one of the most sustainable breweries in Texas, if not the U.S.