Denmark ‘gives back to the people’ with beer made using recycled urine

The Danish Agriculture and Food Council let it all out in front of its headquarters at the Axelborg building in Copenhagen on Tuesday as it launched a new beer produced using recycled urine.

Denmark 'gives back to the people' with beer made using recycled urine
Photo: The Local

Under a surprisingly warm Copenhagen sun, a DJ is playing techno music while staff behind a long bar hand out recyclable plastic cups of free beer to anyone who finds themselves fortunate enough to pass by.

Emblazoned across the cups, as well as the t-shirts worn by the bar staff, is the word ‘PIS’, written in emboldened letters. Yes, you read that correctly, and it means exactly what you think it means, despite the slightly different spelling.

In 2015, the Danish Agriculture and Food Council (Landbrug & Fødevarer, DAFC) collected 54,000 litres of urine from festival attendees at the Roskilde Festival.

During spring 2016, the liquid body waste was used as fertiliser, yielding 11 tons of malting barley, which was then used to produce the beer – which, of course, contains no actual urine.

Now, the project – dubbed 'beercycling' – has come full circle, with production completed and the beverage, given the brand name Pisner, ready to go on sale. 

READ ALSO: Danish farmers brew beer from recycled festival guest urine

DAFC says that it wants the Pisner beer to show that the urine we normally pour down the drain can be used as valuable nutrition.

“This is about getting the young target group to talk about sustainability. Everyone has an opinion on it,” Lisbeth Odgaard, DAFC’s branding manager for the project, told The Local.

The Danish Agriculture and Food Council brewed 60,000 bottles of the Pisner beer in collaboration with brewery Nørrebro Bryghus.

Photo: The Local

“We’re a 100 percent organic company, and even though Pisner actually isn’t 100 percent organic, the idea of recycling beer is such a good vision that we couldn’t really say no to being part of it,” Henrik Vang, executive director at Nørrebro Bryghus, told The Local.

Having produced the beer, Nørrebro Bryghus will sell it to DAFC, which in turn will supply retailers such as Irma and Meny with the Pisner product.

Vang added that the decision to name the beer ‘Pisner’ was a bold marketing choice.

“It divided the customers. But it’s good to be honest. Then we can explain what it’s all about,” he said.

“We wanted to keep it simple and call it what it is. That’s a lot simpler for marketing than an explanation of circular economy, but still shows we want to recycle our resources,” Odgaard added.

The new beer was given away for three hours straight at the Copenhagen promotion, with around 150-200 people stopping by in the sunshine to try it.

Heeren Jhaveri, a tourist from Philadelphia who had arrived in Copenhagen hours earlier, told The Local that the Pisner beer held its own on flavour.

“It tastes great, considering it’s made from piss,” he said.

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


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.