By Parastou Booyash

Donate your urine to the slurry tanks. Wait for it to become fertiliser, so that farmers can use it in the barley fields. Wait a little while longer for the harvest. And voila – your urine ends up in the beer. And we are going to drink it at the 2017 festival.

“I believe that my piss has a strong and excellent taste,” says Jonas from Germany. He, and his friend Nicklas, has held in their pee because they had to block a spot for the camp. And the urine tank was there enticing them so much that they didn’t even go to the fence to urinate. They were some of the very first festivalgoers to use the specially designed slurry tanks, but they won’t be the last. On Saturday, when the festival is over, Danish Agriculture and Food Council expects the collection of urine to reach 100,000 litres. That makes roughly 500 kilos of nitrogen, which can give up to a total of 715,000 bottles of beer.Menneskeurin behøver ikke renses

Human urine doesn’t need cleaning

If everything goes according to the plan, the urine will be approved by the authorities after having been stored in the tanks for four months. Then the fertiliser process and later brewing of the beer can begin. But why should our urine be used as fertiliser, and why have we not done this long since, if it is usable?

Thomas Hovgaard, who is running the project in Danish Agriculture and Food Council explains that the idea of using urine as fertiliser has been researched for about 15 years.

“We already use fertiliser from animals, but if we go back a couple of generations they used human waste as fertiliser. However, when sewage systems were introduced all waste became mixed and it has to be cleaned before it can be used, and that it too expensive. The urine the festivalgoers can deliver doesn’t need to be cleaned, because it goes directly into the tanks and human urine is extremely clean.”

Thomas Hovgaard rejects the idea that the un-purified festival urine will result in higher alcohol volume in the beer:

“Even if the festivalgoers are intoxicated, very small amounts will end up in the urine. And when the urine has been stored for up to six months most waste products are gone. So the beer will not have higher volume,” explains Thomas Hovgaard.

Beer with urine taste

The thought of urine in the beer is not exactly appetising to those delivering the precious drops. The next people to turn up at the urine tanks are Emil and Magnus from Vesterbro in Copenhagen and Hillerød, respectively:

“I don’t mind drinking beer that has been made with my own piss, but I wouldn’t enjoy it as much if it was only Emil’s piss,” says Magnus. Like the German festivalgoers, they are both enthusiastic about the idea, but they cannot promise that they will be peeing into the tanks every time they need a wee. Especially not in the morning, if the German urine donors could decide:

“But we have to come back in 2017 to see what our fertile piss really tastes like,” says Jonas.

The project

– The project has gone from idea to reality in just one year.
– 100,000 litres of piss will give the chance to brew between 572,000 -715,000 bottles of beer.
– A human being produces enough urine to grow 250 kilos of grain a year. That means that the Danish population makes enough pee to fertilise fields to produce 1.4m tonnes of grain.
– Today festival urine is a burden to the environment and to the sewerage system and to the sewerage treatment plant in Roskilde.
– The urine tanks are mainly designed for men, since the organisers’ experience is that women need more privacy when peeing. And those conditions are too expensive to construct around the slurry tanks.

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