Would You Drink a Beer Made with Water from Boston’s Charles River?

By Mike Pomranz |

© Bloomberg / Getty Images

If Seinfeld taught us one thing, it is that urban rivers are not the cleanest places in the world. So drinking a beer made with water pulled from a major metropolitan waterway doesn’t sound particularly appealing, But Boston’s Harpoon Brewery wants people to know that drinking a brew with water pulled from the nearby Charles River is perfectly safe—though they needed a little bit of help from a treatment company to get there.

“Collaboration beers” have become commonplace, but Harpoon’s Charles River Pale Ale is a unique one, teaming the brewery up with Desalitech, a local water desalination company. The hope is that making a beer from about 300 gallons of water from the river will raise awareness not only for efforts to improve its cleanliness, but also of emerging technologies like the ones Desalitech is working on.

“I love the symbolism of using the river water,” Renata von Tscharner, president of the Charles River Conservancy, told the Boston Globe. “As the Charles River Conservancy is working on bringing swimming back, to overcome the ‘dirty water’ stigma is crucial.” For their part, Desalitech considered the project relatively easy. “The Charles River wasn’t that much of a challenge,” their chief executive Nadav Efraty said of the river that has seen major environmental improvements over the past few decades. “It was very easy for us to treat it to a level of water product standards.”

Once brewing is complete, the malty, not-too-hoppy pale ale is expected to be served up exclusively in Harpoon’s beer hall for a limited time. If you happen to miss out, though, I wouldn’t recommend heading down to the Charles River and trying to re-create it yourself. At least, not yet. But maybe one day.

Related: Introducing Choclate Beer Made from Nothing but Cocoa Beans 
How Allagash Lets Everyone Become a Brewer 
From Piss to Pilsner