Wineries and breweries use filters to combat chlorine

By Nicki Harper -
1 comment
Hastings brewer Matt Smith, owner of Brave Brewing Co, with the carbon filter he has installed to extract the chlorine during beer production. PHOTO/WARREN BUCKLAND
Hastings brewer Matt Smith, owner of Brave Brewing Co, with the carbon filter he has installed to extract the chlorine during beer production. PHOTO/WARREN BUCKLAND

Chlorine in the water has left a bad taste in the mouths of local brewers and winemakers.

Hastings-based Brave Brewing Co owner Matt Smith said chlorinated water did not make good beer.

"It has to be taken out so we had to put in a carbon filter. It cost about $1000 - I was not anticipating I would have to do it, as I was lucky enough when I started brewing to just take it from the water supply."

He said if you brewed with chlorinated water it came through in the flavour of the finished beer.

"It's called chlorophenol flavour - it's a harsh flavour and you don't want it in there."

He said there was no health issue, it was just a matter of protecting the premium beer flavour and brand.

Even if the Hastings District Council decided not to continue with chlorination, he said he would probably hold on to the filter, and put a bypass in so it could be used if necessary in the future.

"It was a pain for me, but not as much as for other businesses when they were tackling the water contamination."

He noted that in general food businesses were attracted to Hawke's Bay partly because of the water, and having chlorine in it didn't fit with that.

At Roosters Brewery, owner Chris Harrison said they had also put in a carbon filter, and it was a "bit of a scramble" at the time to install it once the chlorine was added to the water, but costs were kept down by installing it themselves.

Vidal Estate winemaker Hugh Crichton said they were checking the chlorine levels regularly, and had installed a filter they already had within the business.

"Chlorine in wine can have significant quality effects and we are very mindful of that - if the chlorine level is above what is acceptable we have to pass it through the carbon filter to strip it out.

"The downside of high levels of chlorine from a quality point of view could be significant in terms of aromatics and flavour, but the filter system is effective for this."

At Pask Winery, winemaker and co-owner Kate Radburnd said different filtration systems had been introduced on the bottling line as a result of the added chlorine.

"It's had an impact, we have been able to overcome it, but it's taken a bit of work."

Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule said he was aware of the filtering action that was required, and was keen to find a resolution to this that did not involve chlorine if possible.

"I can give businesses and the public an assurance they will be kept fully informed as we move into the longer term options following the Havelock North water contamination."

He said decisions around this would include the Ministry of Health and subsequently the Government inquiry findings.

"I want to support our pure water reputation and its use in food and beverages."

Hastings water services manager Brett Chapman said a number of businesses and major food processors did not access the Hastings supply for processing as they had their own bores and used the town water supply for service needs only.

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