Found this today:
"Bees Wine ... [is] a fermented drink which was most often produced in home kitchens and was
probably most popular in the 1920's to 1950's. The culture was usually kept in a glass container
by a window and grown in a mixture of water, brown sugar and black treacle (there are several
variations on the exact ingredients used). It was usually drained once a week and fresh water and
sugar were added. As the culture naturally multiplied any excess was either discarded or passed
on to others to begin new 'Bees wine'.
According to our old records 'Bees Wine' is a mixture of yeasts and bacteria. The bacteria are
Lactobacilli and an unknown Gram positive rod that forms a gelatinous sheath that coils and traps
the other cells in it. This is also responsible for a thick 'scum' which forms on the surface of the
liquid. The yeasts that have been isolated from the mixture include Saccharomyces cerevisiae,
Brettanomyces anomalus and Hansenula anomala.
The gelatinous lumps formed in the 'Bees Wine' rise and fall as carbon dioxide is produced and
released. Sugar, black treacle and ginger are fermented to produce a mildly alcoholic, rather
sweet drink. Lemon/orange peel is sometimes added ....
'Bees Wine' has several variations and is also known as 'Ginger Beer Plant', 'Palestinian' or
'Californian' Bees or 'Balm of Gilead'.
The NCYC still keeps a culture of 'Bees Wine' in the laboratory although this is purely for scientific
interest and none of the present staff have tried to make the 'wine' itself from the culture."
"...the villagers usually employ a somewhat different mode for making "ginger beer." They make a solution of sugar corresponding roughly to a 10-20 percent solution in tap water, in a large open vessel, a little cream of tartar and a few pieces of ginger are added; some add lemon as well. The pieces of ginger-beer plant are then placed in the mixture and the whole allowed to stand for a day or two. Then the liquor is poured off into bottles and corked, and is drunk after two or three days more."
So who wants to try it?