Twice a year, the public library puts on a book sale. Boy Scout troop 1201 (my old troop from many many years ago) assist them in moving a literal mountain of books. I occasional lend a hand to my old troop, and while I was doing just that today I stumbled upon a very old looking book. I was compelled to gently thumb through it.
It was a copy of Mrs. Owens' Cook Book (c) 1882 and contained the following recipe.
"HOME BREWED BEER.
10 gallons water, 1 pint loose hops, 1 gallon molasses, 2 ounces essence of spruce, 1 ounce ginger, 1 ounce cream of tartar. Boil 10 minutes; when cool enough add 1/2 pint of yeast. Let it ferment 12 hours, then bottle up or put into casks."
Needless to say, it probably does not produce the world's best beverage, but I thought it was pretty cool to find this bit of history IN ACTUAL PRINT.
You can view the book online here:
This all ties in to a conversation recently had at one of our homebrewer's meetings revolving around military rations of spruce beer and the quick turn around on production. The argument was made that the rations were produced the day before. Well, by the above recipe, this argument holds water and now I think I will have to try making it. The question in my head revolves around the use of molasses and if that is an accurate historical representation or just a "homebrewer" short cut.