Beer to the Rescue: Brewery Aims to Stop Frozen Pipe Bursts

A microbrewery in Winooski, Vermont, has found a creative way to use water that otherwise would just be going down the drain in the city’s attempt to prevent frozen pipes.

Four Quarters Brewing is asking neighbors to put food-grade containers in their sinks or tubs as they run their water at a trickle, then to bring those jugs and buckets to the brewery to eventually be turned into beer or soda.

"It was just trying to turn one positive thing out of a negative situation," said Brian Eckert of Four Quarters Brewing. "It kind of creatively helps distract from the cold winter, and do something fun with it."

All across Winooski, property owners have battled frozen pipes during this relentlessly cold winter, the city said. To reduce the chances frozen pipes would lead to disruptive water main breaks, Winooski asked residents to leave a faucet running, with a stream of water approximately a pencil’s width.

Winooski promised to bill based on last year’s water usage, city manager Katherine Decarreau noted. She explained money from an emergency fund should make up price differences between 2014 and 2015 usage.

"Right now, everybody should be running water," Decarreau said.

Decarreau acknowledged that some residents have asked if all that water from trickling faucets was just going to waste.

"Nobody’s wasting it," she told New England Cable News. "It’s going back into the lake and back into the system."

Still, all those trickling taps sparked an idea for Four Quarters Brewing. The one-year-old company said it will use the water it collects to produce Vermont maple cream soda as well as several varieties of beer.

"We boil it, then put it into use; whether it’s for beer or soda," Eckert added.

Josh Lemieux, who works at the Misery Loves Company Bakeshop in Winooski, brought a few containers of water to Four Quarters Brewery Monday morning when he swung in to borrow a piece of equipment from Eckert.

"Why not?" Lemieux chuckled, referring to the unusual idea to collect water in this way. "Makes sense to me!"

Eckert said his tanks can hold hundreds of gallons of water that otherwise would’ve gone down the drain. Four Quarters Brewing said it will keep gathering its neighbor’s water, until the city of Winooski is confident it is free of its cold-weather pipe problems and lifts its "run-your-water" request.

For more on Winooski’s water concerns, visit the city website.

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