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Old 10-27-2012, 07:55 PM   #1
tjpfeister's Avatar
Dec 2010
Green Bay, WI
Posts: 696
Liked 74 Times on 57 Posts

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.


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.

The hardest part of all-grain brewing is arguing about it on the interwebs.

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Old 10-27-2012, 07:59 PM   #2
Apr 2012
Fallbrook, ca
Posts: 146
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts

Sweet find! Post pics and updates
Primary: Belgian Wit
Secondary: Nada
Bottled: Arrogant Butthole, Arrogant Butthole on Oak and Chinook, Rebel Red (West Coast Red)
Next: Barley Wine

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Old 10-27-2012, 08:43 PM   #3
Apr 2010
Calif, USA
Posts: 224
Liked 15 Times on 14 Posts

My experience attempting the George Washington beer which uses molasses is that molasses makes really nasty beer. Maybe drinking it really young is the trick.
Brewing since '08
1-92,94-103) - Gone
93) Hopped Crystal Malt Mead
104 - George Washington's Small Beer - drinking

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Old 10-27-2012, 09:12 PM   #4
FarmerTed's Avatar
Sep 2011
Denver, CO
Posts: 689
Liked 126 Times on 95 Posts

Mmmm, cream of tartar. That's what all of my brews have been missing.

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Old 10-27-2012, 09:30 PM   #5
Mar 2012
Rathdrum, Idaho
Posts: 992
Liked 147 Times on 111 Posts

It sounds pretty bad, but it is awesome to see beer brewing recipes in print from so long ago.

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