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Old 07-27-2010, 03:25 AM   #1
Jan 2009
Posts: 102

Buddy and I are heading out whitewater kayaking and camping this weekend and thought about making a beer with water taken directly from the Ocoee River in TN. We both are avid paddlers and home brewers and thought it would be kinda neat to take water from a river we just paddled and brew a beer at camp that night. What are the cons of doing this, and also thought about just putting the wort right into a bottling bucket and pitching the yeast about 18 hours later when we arrive back home. Has anyone ever done anything like this?

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Old 07-27-2010, 03:29 AM   #2
android's Avatar
Jan 2009
Ames, Iowa
Posts: 3,062
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i don't suppose it would be too terrible... obviously the chemistry of the water will be odd compared to city water, but the boil should kill any nasties in it. you can pitch the yeast 18 hrs later as long as the wort is kept sanitary. i'm sure it's been done somewhere before, but can't point you in the right direction.
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Old 07-27-2010, 03:30 AM   #3
Lcasanova's Avatar
Jul 2009
Park Ridge, IL
Posts: 980
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A while ago there was a guy who fished a chunk of an iceberg out of the water and brewed with it...I searched for the thread but couldn't find it. I guess I would just campden the water but theres no telling if its the ideal brewing water on not.
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Old 07-27-2010, 03:57 AM   #4
Oct 2009
Posts: 836
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Cons: I pee in the river when I kayak/camp etc. But most city water (in CO) is essentially from the river. They just add chlorine and call it good. Some places will filter particulates. At least you don't have chloramine to deal with.

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Old 07-27-2010, 04:08 AM   #5
Aug 2009
Reading, PA
Posts: 85
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Before doing anything else with it, I'd let it sit in a bucket for an hour or so, and then rack into the kettle/HLT, maybe even with a cheesecloth or grain bag over the mouth of the racking cane. Moving water tends to carry a bit of sediment and particulate matter, and keeping that out of the wort seems like your main issue. Other than that, I don't see why you couldn't brew with river water-- as long as the water doesn't taste God-awful, I'm sure you'll end up with some pretty drinkable beer.

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Old 07-27-2010, 04:48 AM   #6
Aug 2008
Portland OR
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Region 4
EPA Report: Ocoee River safe for recreation
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) evaluated the Ocoee River as part of the
ongoing investigation and cleanup of the Copper Basin Mining District in Polk County,
Tennessee. This evaluation concluded that the Ocoee River is safe for whitewater rafters,
boaters, and swimmers. EPA’s conclusions are presented in the Ocoee River Baseline
Human Health Risk Assessment.
Performing a baseline human health risk assessment is a routine step for EPA when studying an area, such as the Copper
Basin Mining District. EPA’s risk assessment evaluated samples of surface water, river sediments, and fish tissues
collected during 1997, 2000, and 2002 from various locations along the Ocoee, between Davis Mill Creek in the Copper
Basin area and Parksville Reservoir, plus an area upstream, in the Toccoa River, for comparison.
• Is it safe to use the Ocoee River for recreation?
“Yes, EPA’s human health risk assessment confirms that residents and visitors can enjoy swimming, rafting and other
water recreation without concern. Even frequent contact with the water by whitewater rafting guides, who work on
the river five days a week, is not predicted to result in health risks that exceed EPA guidelines,” said EPA Project
Manager Rich Campbell.
• What is a “baseline human health risk assessment”?
It is a scientific analysis of the risk or likelihood of health problems that might occur if a person is exposed to
hazardous substances at a site. The analysis is based on the types and quantities of those substances and ways that a
person could come into contact with the substances. The risk assessment estimates potential current and future human
health effects, if no site cleanup actions occurred.
• What substances have been found in the Ocoee River?
Arsenic, iron, lead, manganese, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were identified and evaluated in river sediments
or surface water; PCBs, mercury, and selenium were identified and evaluated in fish tissue.
• How can people come into contact with these substances?
Contact can occur through breathing, touching, or consuming polluted air, water, soil or food.
• Do substances in the Ocoee River pose any risks?
Based on samples of river water, sediments and fish tissue, EPA concluded that potential health risks do not exceed
EPA guidelines for recreational exposure in the Ocoee River. However, EPA found some potential health risk
associated with eating fish caught in the Ocoee, downstream of Copperhill, or Parksville Reservoir. EPA evaluated
channel catfish, large-mouth bass, and yellow perch. Potential risk varied by type of fish, location where caught, and
amount of fish eaten. It is important to recognize that risk calculations are conservative estimates based on eating
these fish for 30 years. With regard to the Ocoee and Parksville Reservoir, risks may be overestimated because past
mining activities created conditions in which few fish were able to live.
• Where can I get more information?
A copy of the Ocoee River Baseline Human Health Risk Assessment is available in the Copper Basin Information
Repository in the Polk County/Copper Basin Chamber of Commerce office at 134 Main Street, Ducktown, TN.
Summary information and the complete risk assessment document are posted on the internet at the following address: For more information, contact Rich Campbell, EPA Remedial Project Manager,
404-562-8825 or 800-435-9233.
June 2003

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Old 07-27-2010, 03:32 PM   #7
Jan 2009
Posts: 102

Well looks like I'm brewing down on the river this weekend. Thanks.

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Old 07-27-2010, 03:42 PM   #8
Feb 2010
Posts: 149
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Dude, you're not even supposed to eat fish caught in the Ocoee. Living in East TN myself, I wouldn't brew with water from any of the lakes or rivers east of Nashville. With Oak Ridge nearby plus all the mercury in the resovoirs, you may be better off using your filtered tap water or spring water.

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