Brewgooder is a beer label that donates 100% of its profits to clean water projects around the world. We speak to co-founder Alan Mahon about this remarkable story.

Where did the idea for a beer that helps with the water crisis come from?

Josh (Co-founder) and I had previously founded and ran two social enterprises before, including a sandwich chain in Scotland called Social Bite which provides food and employment for homeless people. We were obsessed with the idea that you could help people through good businesses and brands which you could also take satisfaction in seeing come to life. This obsession didn’t end at 5pm on a Friday and it’s often something we’d take to the pub. Thinking of all the things I’d want to do it became clear that outside of work one of my passions was drinking craft beer. It was what we were doing while thinking up hare-brained ideas for social businesses. So I thought why don’t we brew a beer that helps people? Immediately I knew I wanted this to help bring people clean drinking water. I was lucky enough to travel in Nepal when I left Uni, but in the countryside I drank unsafe water – something that the villagers did several times a day – and I got ill. I had access to the drugs needed to get me back on my feet, but this is not the case for around 650m people across the globe and certainly not for the 900 children who needlessly die from waterborne diseases every single day.

I thought if I could bring to life a beer that could provide people with safe water then that’s a win-win. It would be easy to understand for craft drinkers: ‘drink beer, give water’. No one would make a sacrifice, some people would get great beer, some others safe drinking water.

What is the key problem you’re helping with?

At this moment we’re focusing on two things: first time clean water access, those who have never had a sustainable safe source of water in their communities, and school projects which enable clean water access and sanitation and help to facilitate school feeding programmes which completely changes the scope of our impact.

Who are the people most affected?

The poorest people in our world, usually in developing countries in Africa and Latin America. Parts of India also shockingly lack safe water access or adequate sanitation. In our world refugees also lack this basic right or stretch whatever resource is in their temporary places of residence.

Women in some of these communities often have the burden of travelling for miles to fetch water which might not even be safe and this takes them out of any other meaningful social or economic activity for hours at a time. Lastly, children are victims with mortality linked to an entirely preventable problem shockingly high.

What projects have already been put in place?

We funded the digging of two wells in 2016. One in Dedza and one in Phirilongwe, both of which are in Malawi. The first allows a school feeding programme called Mary’s Meals to operate seamlessly and the latter provides a rural community in a hard to reach and mountainous area safe water. It’s amazing to think around 5,000 people have this access to clean water and that has been powered by craft beer.

You brew at BrewDog - what help have they provided?

They are a huge help. We wanted to brew a beer that provided 1,000,000 people with clean drinking water. That had to be a great tasting beer and one we could brew at a decent volume each time. We didn’t know how to do either, but when we asked James Watt and Martin Dickie to brew our lager at zero-margin, they said yes and didn’t really ask for anything in return other than that we live up to our mission. It was a gamechanger for us. That dream could become a reality, we’re grateful for that help and we try to thank them on every can.

It sounds silly, but the water profile really comes through - how did you achieve that?

“I understand what you mean, most people say “I can taste the clean water”, sometimes it’s a compliment and other times it’s not. Clean Water Lager is not especially referring to what goes in but what comes out! That being said, there is a lot of attention paid to water treatment and how this affects the brewing process at BrewDog so we tried to balance the recipe to make sure we achieved that little arc in the taste profile that gives way to a clean texture before being backed up with a malty finish.