Researchers are scratching their heads, and Portland Water Bureau is furious.

In Portland, Oregon, a reservoir in one of the City parks has begun spilling out a river of naturally occurring beer/ale. How can this happen?

I'd like to avoid magic or human intervention in favor of a series of coincidences that created this natural craft. While it can get contaminated / dirty as it spills out, it must be drinkable and be a lot. It can occur in a reservoir, in the geology, in pipes, or in a water tower. A little bit of hand-waving is acceptable, if necessary.

Everything is present-day, Pacific Northwest, any season.

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    $\begingroup$ You might start with the fact that most beer recipes call for about 3 pounds of grain per gallon of water, so a 1 million gallon reservoir will need to have about 3 million pounds of grain dumped into it. And where the hops will come from I have no idea. Plus, of course, the fermentation will have to take place before the water is distributed - on the one hand, it takes a while, and on the other hand chlorination will kill the yeast. Oh yes, and forget about carbonation. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 2:20
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    $\begingroup$ It is believed that mead (honey wine) was probably humanity's first exposure to alcoholic beverages. The probable scenario was a bee hive got soaked in a rain storm and started the fermentation process. Some humans wandered by hoping to get honey and got mead instead. We've been trying to improve on the process ever since. Since the ratio I use is 1 lb of honey per gallon of water, you'd need 1 million pounds of honey to start the process. $\endgroup$
    – Jim2B
    Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 2:54
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    $\begingroup$ On the other hand... If you were willing to accept other alcoholic beverages, then a more likely scenario would be an explosion at a corn syrup manufacturing plant releases corn syrup (essentially sugar) into the reservoir. Environmental yeast starts fermentation. If you're not worried about the strength of the beverage then you could easily half or quarter the amount of sugar so you'd only need 250,000 lb of corn syrup. It might generate 3% alcohol through fermentation. $\endgroup$
    – Jim2B
    Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 2:58
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    $\begingroup$ How on Earth did you come up with this storyline? XD $\endgroup$
    – Beta Decay
    Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 15:56
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    $\begingroup$ @Jim2B And that's how PBR was born. $\endgroup$
    – ckersch
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 22:42

7 Answers 7


Some biotech firm is experimenting with a beer-producing algae. Somehow it got loose in the reservoir. It's been growing there, the weather changed to the point it released its built-up crop of beer.

  • $\begingroup$ I love this solution - it even has the option (with some handwavium thrown in) for the beer-producing algea/bacteria/etc. to survive and thrive in the lake - constantly renewing the supply :) $\endgroup$
    – G0BLiN
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 16:21

I would guess for the beer to even be recognizable as such, it is going to have to be someone's idea of a planned practical joke. About the best I can see for something like this to happen would likely be something the size of a water tower. it's small enough to actually be possible.

It still is unlikely but it might be done during one of the scheduled maintenance runs. Many large cities with multiple water towers generally empty one out for maintenance fairly regularly. So who ever is in charge of that schedule would have to be in on it or tricked into 'serious repairs' needing to be done. It would also need at least several accomplices to get the beer into the tower, whether it is bring all the ingredients up and mixing the mash in the tower and letting it go for 2 weeks while 'repairs' are going on or just buying semi loads of the beverage and pumping it into the tower.

Pure accident? unlikely, most likely chance would be a grain tower or two being flooded and a small miracle of the right stuff being together for the right amount of time with enough heat.



You will need to change the numbers and timing to fit. Also, I'm not too happy with how the grains get there.

100 000 000 BC

Mount WannaMakaLotaBrew started off life as a crack in the Earth's crust with a silver spoon (er...ore) in it's mouth. Being born near the beach (and creating the beach) this allowed layers sand to be mixed in with layers of silver ore (antibiotic) As time went on, plant/animal life started to appear.

Every 100 years or so, Mount WannaMakaLotaBrew turned them all living matter into a nice layer of charcoal (other filtering)

1 000 000 BC

Mount WannaMakaLotaBrew decided to get some rest but had a lot of magma left to get rid of first. For years, Mount WannaMakaLotaBrew gave the lava in a slow steady fasion. In the process, lava tubes formed.

When all was done, Mount WannaMakaLotaBrew rolled over causing the lava tubes to now be at steep angles.

5 000 BC

Princess Buzzbuzz Bzzz (a wild queen honey bee) decided to leave her hive and start her own hive.

After days of searching, she ran across a nice little cave system. It was long, dark, and stayed warm in the winter.

She had found one of the lava tubes of Mount WannMakaLotaBrew.

She picked a spot near the location where snow melt was starting to be collected. This collection would grow into underground lake, and provided the hive of Princess Buzzbuzz Bzzz a source of clean fresh water and cool air during the summer, and the heat from the lava tube's bottom provided the warmth through the winter.

Her hive would thrive.

As the years go on, Mount WannaMakaLotaBrew tossed and turned. In the process, parts of the honey collected by the hive of Princess Buzzbuzz Bzzz broke off and fell down the lava tube.

After eons, the bottom of the lava tube had collected a ton of honey. Honey that is as ancient as that found in Egyptian tombs and just as well preserved.

100 AD

A tribe of Native Americans found a cave system with a bottomless pit.

To appease the god of Mount WannaMakaLotaBrew, they would sacrifice a 100 pounds (adjust numbers to make sense) of grain down this bottomless pit.

Every now and then, Mount WannMakaLotaBrew required more sacrifice and showed his dissatisfaction with an earthquake.

1800 AD

A former brewmaster from the Yuengling family wanted to start his own brewing company out west.

While on the Oragon Trail, he spotted some Native Americans near Mount WannaMakaLotaBrew.

In preparation for an ambush, he hid a barrel of brewers yeast in a cave close to a pit. (the same bottomless pit)

He died of dysentery shortly after.

Near Future

Due to global warming, the top of Mount WannaMakaLotaBrew became the perfect spot for growing hops.

The Portland Brewing company had a high demand for Oregon hops. A lot of farmer land appeared, adding many silos of hops to the top of Mount WanaMakaLotaBrew.

Near Future + 1 day

Mount WannaMakaLotaBrew was beginning to wake up.

An earthquake caused a fissure near the top. This fissure swallowed some of the silos of hops down and their contents to the bottomless pit (lava tube).

Additionally, the abandoned barrel of brewer's yeast from 1800's fell into the pit.

The underground lake drained into the pit also.

Mount WannaMakaLotaBrew had heated up the bottom of this particular lava tube for the correct temperature for brewing beer.

(Optionally) Mount WannMakaLotaBrew heated up the lava tube that the hops fell down high enough to slightly toast them.

Near Future + 3 months

Winter at the top of Mount WannaMakaLotaBrew has come and gone.

The snowmelt found a new route. This new route leads the water to the bottomless pit that contains the beer mash.

This allowed the millions of gallons of (now beer) liquid to reach a particular point where it can drain to a lower elevation (like a toilet flush)

As it drains, it passes through sand (filter), silver ore (antibiotic), charcoal (poison filter), and more sand (extra filtering) making the brew safe to drink as it gushes out into a nearby reservoir.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for the sheer effort. xD $\endgroup$
    – Qami
    Commented Sep 12, 2018 at 21:49
  • $\begingroup$ Very creative answer but this wouldn't produce beer. Beer is made from malted, cracked grains, not just straight up whole grains. This is to release the sugars so that the brewer's yeast can ferment. To make malt, the grains need to be sprouted for a short time and then roasted. Perhaps a better way for this is using geothermals? And honey mixed with malt is usually more of a braggot, not sure if this qualifies for the OP as beer. Also, I think you can leave out the brewer's yeast portion, it is creative but stretched. The yeast often found in honey or other wild sources could suffice. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 13, 2018 at 11:27

Well, I don't have a permanent solution, as in, the beer flows forever, but I can think of a way where it happens for a while:

Ever hear of the Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919? A giant tank holding molasses burst, and released 2.3 millions gallons of molasses in a 25 foot high tidal wave moving 35 mph that swept through Boston. It would be hilarious except 21 people died.

Anyway, to make tasty alcoholic beverages you need two things: sugars, and yeasts. You could recreate the Great Molasses Flood (modern update: Great Corn Syrup Flood) from a giant holding tank that's on a hill above the water reservoir. All of it runs down the hill into the water, where it mixes. From there, natural airborne yeasts (note: there are some superb Belgian beers made this way. Not in a lake, though. In open tanks) settle in for their favorite feast in your syrupy water, and viola, beer/mead/whatev flows from the taps.

Possibly you could drag this out by making it a unknown/covered up leak, but I kind of doubt you could get the sugar concentrations high enough without it being obvious where it comes from.

  • $\begingroup$ Hmm.. imagine a corn syrup pipeline between two factories, which is leaking into the lake and you have a continuous supply of sugar. .... AAAND add the biotech-algae from Loren Pechtel to this. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 10:08

I know this. Sourdough was originally discovered when a lot of flour was left out during a rainstorm near the nile; producing a natural starter. As that starter is a yeast, given that there is some reasonably large presence of grain in the water, and enough time for it to ferment, you could hypothetically create a beer-like substance that way.

It's also quite common at watering holes, on the African savannah, for fallen fruit to ferment on its own and literally make the animals drunk as skunks.

Perhaps a sufficient quantity of one moistened grain or another could strongly ferment up spring, much like the fruit of the watering hole, then form effective beer on its way out.


Alright here's a scenario

-Earlier this season Portland experienced an extreme bumper crop of barley and wheat.

-located near the city park is an old but still functioning grain processing silo: Tim's Grains

-During the bumper crop Tim's Grains wasn't able to compete with the lower prices of competing newer plants and was stuck with an overflow of grains now beginning to go bad in the silo.

In order to save what they could of their product they decided to dump a portion of their more gone grains into the nearest reservoir in the dead of night

by stroke of luck it was yeast that was corrupting their grains.

  • $\begingroup$ This is good. Can you flesh it out a bit? Maybe add a touch of Worldbuidling flair... $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 15:50
  • $\begingroup$ What is it missing? bare in mind its technically against the rules to be asking questions requiring people to write your story for you $\endgroup$
    – anon
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 16:08

If you want coincidences...

Well how about "the great landslide". The cliff overseeing the Sugar lake collapsed during "the great storm". Sugar Lake got its name because of the large amounts of sugar cane growing there. farmer Bill has his grain farm next to the lake. The landslide mixed the grain and sugarcane along with just the right amount of water into a little pocket of ground water where the drinking water is taken from. After a while this fermentation process creates beer, and it gets into the water supply.


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