hist-brewing: Spruce Beer

Bryan Maloney bjm10 at cornell.edu
Thu Jul 17 15:54:07 PDT 1997

What primary source recipes have people come across for spruce beer?  I've
found a very rough description in an officer's orderly book (ca. 1758)
instructing a certain amount of "melisses" (molasses) be used in the
recipe.  This beverage seems to have been quite the favorite of Good
George's troops.  As far as I've read, from the one primary source and
secondary sources, the ingredients appear to have been water, molasses, and
either spruce shoots or spruce essence--shoots appear to have been
preferred over essence.

The orderly book appears to have belonged to a very scrupulous young major,
because he insisted that the beer be fermented for no less than three days
before the men were permitted to drink it--and that they were not to roll
the barrels when transporting it.

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