Finding Unique Water Sources to Brew Beer


I am always looking for something unique and different to create my brews. In the fall of 2019 I brewed a beer using water from Camp Crystal Lake in New Jersey, the original filming location of Friday the 13th. This brew day would lay the foundation for a number of unique, natural-water homebrews. I began brewing beer from bodies of water that have historical or cultural significance just as an idea that I thought would be fun. Each brew water goes through a filtering process that consists of an activated carbon and zeolite, then a final finishing filtration pad. The inherent wort boil will provide the necessary sanitation to take care of any residual microbes prior to fermentation. 

Beer the author brewed with water from each of the five Great Lakes. Photos courtesy of Roger Krzeminski

I have now brewed beer using water from Camp Crystal Lake/Friday the 13th, all five of the Great Lakes, and the Little River from the Tennessee Smoky Mountains, and each has brought some amazing stories and memorable encounters. Sure, I enjoy the simple craft of making beer as well as their accompanying labels, but it’s the journey that makes it so special. Each beer label is unique and details why the chosen waters are important, what goes into them, or what historical value they hold. I want to tell a story with each beer. Every beer is given away to friends and family as a way to share my experience through beer — this is a labor of love after all and I honestly feel these are stories told through a bottle.

In early June 2023, I was able to make a visit to a bucket list location that I have wanted to see for many years: The site of the 1968 Woodstock music festival. It was something to behold knowing what that piece of ground represented. In my research on how to get there, I happened to see that Filippini Pond was directly adjacent to the rear of the stage site, which was used during the concert, as many will recall seeing the photos of skinny-dipping hippies. The idea was born then: I wanted to make a brew from those very waters. I knew I had to make this one something for the ages to capture the greatness of the concert itself. I was able to find a small trail and gathered about 8 gallons (30 L) of genuine Filippini Pond water with which I created my Woodstock Wheat beer.

wax top for woodstock wheat with a peace symbol stamped

The labels were a grueling effort that had its ups and downs, but in the end came out great. There are many symbolic nods and small easter eggs for the keen eye, most of which represent the times or specific artists I have an appreciation for. The purple wax is a nod to Jimi Hendrix and Purple Haze, to which I added some white “Pearl/Pearlescent” wax to the mixture as a nod to Janis Joplin. The caps are a tribute to Max Yasgur and his dairy farm who worked out a deal to allow the festival to take place on his land and the circular cap obviously lends itself to the peace symbol so that was a perfect choice for the stamp to complete the look. The bottles had to be special and in my looking for the ideal bottle for such a historic event I came across the old Michelob bottles, which just happened to be vintage from the 1960s. 

The original front label didn’t fit the vintage bottles, so on my search for a new label I found a guitar picture label and knew that was the one — it just fit all too well. The lava lamp shape is clearly evident and a perfect representation of the psychedelic nature of the 1960s. I later thought up the stainless steel shot glass and inverted it on top for the cap and the concept was complete. This has been my most ambitious and most rewarding project to date, and I couldn’t be more at “peace” with the finished brew.

Michelob bottles from the 1960s adorned with labels and caps by the author

Woodstock Wheat

(5 gallon/19 L, partial mash)
OG = 1.060  FG = 1.013
IBU = 13  SRM = 5  ABV = 5.9%

5 lbs. (2.3 kg) wheat liquid malt extract
2.8 lbs. (1.3 kg) 2-row pale malt
1 lb. (0.45 kg)  pale ale malt
0.8 lb.  (360 g) flaked wheat
0.5 lb.  (230 g) Simpsons Golden Naked Oats malt
2.25 AAU Hallertau Mittelfrüh hops (60 min.) (0.5 oz./14 g at 4.5% alpha acids)
1.6 AAU Cascade hops (30 min.) (0.25 oz./7 g at 6.5% alpha acids)
3/4 Tbsp. coriander seed, crushed (5 min.)
1 Tbsp. lemon zest (5 min.)
White Labs WLP300 (Hefeweizen Ale), Wyeast 3068 (Weihenstephan Weizen), or SafAle WB-06 yeast
¾ cup corn sugar (if priming)

Step by Step
Start with 2 gallons (7.6 L) of your brewing liquor, mash crushed grains for 60 minutes at 153 °F (67 °C). Sparge with 1 gallon (3.8 L) water at 170 °F (77 °C). Off heat, stir in the malt extract. Once fully dissolved, turn heat back and bring wort up to a boil. Boil for 60 minutes adding hops and spices at time shown.

After the boil is complete, chill the wort down to yeast pitch temperature, aerate if using a liquid yeast strain then pitch the yeast. Ferment at ~ 70 °F (21 °C) for two weeks. Prime and bottle or keg and force carbonate to 2.5 v/v.

Issue: January-February 2024