We got to thinking about the environmental impact of buying imported mineral water in glass bottles and found a company with a bright idea and a three-wheeled bike.

A keg of mineral water built into a Danish Christiania three-wheeler bike – it’s pimped, it’s got a brolly, it’s looking good and it’s coming to a market, café or restaurant near you.

The Daylesford and Hepburn Mineral Springs Company (dhmsco) have taken a simple and very logical idea and are literally taking it to the streets. Founders and directors of dhmsco, Mitch Watson and Brylie Rankine have been selling their mineral water, which is sourced from the Daylesford spring naturally carbonated, to their customers in customary bottles, but have now taken the next step of providing restaurants and cafes mineral water in recyclable eco-kegs.

The concept has been a few years in the making and is an idea that’s catching on in Melbourne. Watson, a former hospitality professional and farmer, has an ongoing relationship with Jamie Oliver’s Sydney-based restaurant, Jamie’s Italian, where the high profile chef is an advocate of sustainable business practices. This relationship opened the discussion on the most effectively sustainable way to serve mineral water to customers, “I told them I’d been thinking about mineral water in kegs,” says Watson, “and they said, ‘Let’s do it’.”

The next opportunity to install the mineral water kegs again came about in Sydney, when designer, horticulturalist and artist Joost Bakker of the Greenhouse by Joost restaurant in Perth, created a pop-up Greenhouse by Joost in Sydney (following a stint in Melbourne).

The beauty of serving water through a reticulation system such as a keg is that, while cutting down packaging to a minimum, it also eases the costs and environmental impacts of travel and shipping. The water can be sold by the glass or bottle in the restaurant and the bottles Watson supplies to the restaurants are made in Spotswood, Melbourne, rather than being manufactured overseas and shipped to Australia.

The next step is to make more Melburnians aware of the quality of dhmsco’s mineral water and the notion of the mineral water keg, which is delivered on via the keg bike. Some restaurants around Melbourne are heeding the call and installing kegs into their businesses. “We have three types of customers at the moment,” says Watson. “Those who have volume businesses and can justify the initial outlay of a system, those with tap beer already so the set up is there, and new venues who can include the system into the build.”

Restaurants in Melbourne to have dhmsco mineral water on tap so far include, Little Creatures, Dandelion, The Corner Shop and Ladro. Watson is also in the process of developing syrups to add to the water in classic flavours such as cucumber, hawthorne, elderflower, natural tonic and rosehip (he’s also working on a nettle syrup but acknowledges it’s not quite ready to go).

There is the opportunity to check out the dhmsco keg bike, taste the water and the syrups at the Melbourne farmers markets (mfm.com.au) each Saturday from mid-August at its various locations. “We want people to try the syrups and tell us what they think,” explains Watson. “We’re doing research.”
Research, determination and logic have got dhmsco this far and it’ll be great to watch these trailblazers of practicality and see how the idea and application of kegs of mineral water in our restaurants and cafes (and on bikes) will be received.