Danish farmers brew beer from recycled festival guest urine

A beer brewed using urine collected from festival guests? It might sound like toilet humour, but that is exactly what Danish farmers have done.

Danish farmers brew beer from recycled festival guest urine
Photo: Landbrug & Fødevarer

There is, of course, no actual urine in the beer. The waste product is used as fertiliser in the brewing of the pilsner – in itself, a not-uncommon part of manufacturing processes.

But the new Danish beverage collects its fertiliser from humans at Roskilde Festival – the largest music festival in Northern Europe – and not from cows or pigs.

In 2015, the Danish Agriculture and Food Council (Landbrug & Fødevarer) collected 54,000 litres of urine from festival attendees at the Roskilde Festival. During spring 2016, the urine was used as fertiliser, yielding 11 tons of malting barley.

Now, the project – dubbed 'beercycling' – has almost come full circle with the completed production of the brew.

Beercycling English from Landbrug & Fødevarer on Vimeo.

The result, a pilsner beer called Pisner, will see the light of day in Denmark this summer.

“Just as we have seen shops sell goods that would otherwise have been thrown out, beercycling allows us to recycle a product that is normally flushed down the drain. When it comes to circular economy, Danish farmers are some of the best in the world. If you can brew a beer with urine as fertiliser, you can recycle almost anything,” said Karen Hækkerup, CEO of the Danish Agriculture and Food Council.

READ ALSO: How Roskilde's guests control waste while getting wasted

The Danish Agriculture and Food Council is collaborating with brewery Nørrebro Bryghus to brew 60,000 bottles of the Pisner beer.  

“We want to be a part of the beercycling project partly due to the story it has already told, but also because it is interesting to partake in a project which addresses the challenges of sustainability and circular economy. Basically, it is a cool project,” Henrik Vang, executive director at Nørrebro Bryghus, said via a press release.

The brewing process started at the end of March and the public will be able to taste the finished product in June 2017.


Denmark’s summer music festival hopes fade

The possibility of large-scale music festivals taking place in Denmark this summer has been described as “unrealistic” following the publication of expert recommendations for coronavirus-safe events.

Denmark’s summer music festival hopes fade
The Roskilde Festival during the glorious summer of 2018. Photo: Sofie Mathiassen/Ritzau Scanpix

Music events such as the Roskilde Festival, the largest of its kind in northern Europe, would not be able to take place as normal and must be without overnight guests under the recommendations, submitted in report form by an expert advisory group to the government on Friday.

The group, appointed as part of the national reopening plan, was tasked with looking at how festivals and other large events can take place this summer.

The recommendations will provide the basis political discussions which will form an agreement over large events which will be integrated into the reopening plan.

READ ALSO: Denmark enters new phase of reopening plan: Here’s what changed on April 21st

Seven various scenarios, including one for outdoors, standing events, were considered by the expert group in forming its recommendations. Two phases have been set down for eased restrictions on large events, which are currently banned due to the public assembly limit.

In the final phase of the restrictions towards the end of the summer, a maximum of 10,000 people would be permitted to attend an event. All attendees would be required to present a valid corona passport, and audiences would be split into sections of 2,000.

Although that could provide a framework for some events to take place, Roskilde Festival, which normally has a total of around 130,000 guests and volunteers including sprawling camping areas, appears to be impossible in anything resembling its usual format.

The festival was also cancelled in 2020.

Roskilde Festival CEO Signe Lopdrup, who was part of the expert group, said the festival was unlikely to go ahead should it be required to follow the recommendations.

“Based on the recommendations, we find it very difficult to believe it is realistic to organise festivals in Denmark before the end of the summer,” Lopdrup said in a written comment to broadcaster DR.

The restrictions would mean “that it is not possible to go ahead with the Roskilde Festival. That’s completely unbearable. But that’s where we’ve ended,” she added.

The news is potentially less bleak for other types of event with fewer participants, with cultural and sporting events as well as conferences also included in the recommendations submitted by the group.

Parliament has previously approved a compensation scheme for major events forced to cancel due to coronavirus measures this summer.