Back to Shopping at

Lake Water

Hi All -

Anyone ever tried brewing with lake water? Obviously not from a storm pond or anything…I’m thinking Lake Superior here.

Would this just be a stupid, silly idea?

My reasoning is nothing other than convenience… Going to be spending a week at a cabin on the lake with no running water. With all that water right there in the largest freshwater lake on the planet it seems silly to bring in 10+ gallons. I’m already contemplating hauling coolers, keggle, burner, propane, etc, so wondering if this might be do-able.

Why not…if it turns out crap, it’s just grain and hops you wasted. If it turns out magnificent…well you got a kick ass water source! I remember seeing a video about some people who brewed beer from a water source (I think a duck pond) that was funky and stagnant teaming with bacteria and parasites. After brewing with it, the FDA said it was safe for consumption so they gave samples away. I don’t think anyone was turned off at the taste until they found out it was brewed with water that ducks poo’d in.

I don’t know if you are talking Upper Michigan or not, but you might want to check locally about any current burning bans due to the fires in the UP.

Doubt a propane burner would fall under the ban, but it might be worth looking into first.

Nope, not the UP… Wisconsin, South shore.

How are you planning on cooling it?

I found this info online:

The water looks promising for brewing in regards to the mineral content.

Calcium: 13 ppm
Magnesium: 3.1 ppm
Sodium: 3.2 ppm
Chloride: 1.1 ppm
Sulfate: 6.3 ppm
HCO3: 56 ppm

It looks much less desirable according to the pollution content.

PCBs: 0.059 ng/L - 1.3x MN water quality guidelines
HCB: 0.013 ng/L - 0.2x MN water quality guidelines
Dieldrin: 0.112 ng/L - 93.3x MN water quality guidelines
Chlordane: 0.009 ng/L - 0.225x MN water quality guidelines
DDT: 0.014 ng/L - 1.27x MN water quality guidelines
Toxaphene: 1.014 ng/L - 92.2x MN water quality guidelines
Lindane: 0.283 ng/L - 0.004x MN water quality guidelines

MN water quality guidelines are more strict then MI and WI, but these levels exceed their recommendations also.

The reason the water is so good for brewing, mineral wise, and so poor, pollution wise is the because of the 191 year residence time of water in the lake.

I think you would be fine making one or two batches a year out of the lake water, but more then that may cause Dieldrin, Toxaphene, and PCBs too accumulate in your system.

Sorry to the the bearer of good and bad news.

In the lake would be my guess :wink:

Wow, that is some great (if not desirable) information re: mineral and pollution content.

I think I might mix 50% lake water and 50% water that I haul in. That way I could halve the net “pollution” but still give the beer some sweet name that incorporates the lake somehow.

And yes, the cooling plan would be to just stick the keggle in the lake for a while. Should be a quasi-ice-bath being Superior and all.

Welcome any other thoughts or perspectives on this…


After reading more about the toxicity of PCBs, Dieldrin, & Toxaphene I don’t think I would brew with that water.

Those three are some nasty chemicals which have been banned in most of the world since 1990 and before. Toxaphene belongs to the so-called “dirty dozen”, a list of very toxic substances, banned when the Stockholm Convention went into effect.

Here are the Wikipedia links

Not so sure that I would brew with it either.

It would be a good source if you could carbon filter it.

Yeah, they look pretty awful. All apparently insecticides that persist forever…

Perhaps I’ll be bringing in water.

Would a carbon filter remove these things? Does a carbon filter preserve all the mineral content?

Yipes…I think not.
A carbon filter is not going to remove all the bad shrit.

Yipes…I think not.
A carbon filter is not going to remove all the bad shrit.[/quote]

It most positively will. It loves organics.

A good carbon filter would remove the majority of most organic chemicals including the ones listed; not sure how you could get the water through the filter with out some way to pressurize it to overcome the resistance of the filter.

I agree on the filtering issue. It would be difficult in a remote location, but with a gravity setup, one could filter enough for a 5 gallon batch fairly easily. Take a bottling bucket, some tubing, and a filter apparatus.

The EPA’s Pesticides category lists 14 familiar poisons such as Aldicarb, Chlordane, Heptachlor, and Lindane. In all 14 cases, activated carbon is the only recommended treatment. Of the 12 Herbicides listed (2,4-D, Atrazine, etc.), activated carbon is the only treatment recommended.

For Organics, Pesticides, and Herbicides, the standard treatment, and in most cases the only treatment recommended, is activated carbon.

[quote=“onthekeg”]I agree on the filtering issue. gravity setup, with bottling bucket, some tubing, and a filter apparatus.

Yes this would probably work depending on the filter and the height of the bottling bucket above the filter. Use a good filter. I say go for it. At the amounts and concentrations mentioned, the “risks” from uptake from a one-off batch once per year would seem to be exceedingly “low”. If that’s not enough don’t brew a session beer; make it a high gravity beer that should be aged so that you won’t drink as much at once.

Might need to get the bucket pretty high to get enough flow through the filter.

Or a pump maybe?

Whenever I go backpacking on the Superior Hiking Trail in NE Minnesota I always pump the water through a camping filter. I’ve used Superior water before with this filter, but it would cost you around 60 bucks, and I’ve never purified 5-7 gallons before. I only usually do 2-3 quarts at a time.

I can’t remember from this thread, but was your main concern parasites and bacteria? Because the 60 minute boil would make the water safe too.

Chlorine dioxide tablets for bacteria/ fungus/ parasites.
Activated charcoal for the chemicals.

Back to Shopping at